Meegan Gregg started Backbody Project in 2016 to meet her own personal workout needs. The business grew and she was ready to lease her own space until Covid-19 hit in March, throwing a curveball her direction. Taking her business online (reluctantly) has proven to be a tremendous success. April was one of her strongest months ever! This is her story...
Meegan, what is Backbody Project? Backbody Project is a full-body workout that builds your backside. This is a class designed to help build overall strength, create mobility and balance in your body, and condition your heart like nothing else. We combine jump training and lots of Jane Fonda-style toning with beat-driven functional movement for a workout that is intense but also super fun. It’s not for everyone—we’re definitely more intense than your typical fitness concept, but when BBP resonates with clients, it becomes addictive. And we build the best lower bodies in the industry.
I started Backbody Project as a one time per week class, just for fun, in January of 2016. At that time you had to know someone to be invited to join and there was no public-facing method of contacting me. I worked full time for a non-profit and my job involved a lot of travel to DC so I was gone for long stretches of the work week so the once a week format was all I could handle. In Fall of 2018, as my client base continued to expand, I found a permanent home for all of our classes, built a website, and I hired my first teacher (now I have 4!).
Before coming to the SBDC what challenges were you facing in your business? So many! SBDC basically got me on track to run my business as a business. Prior to taking my first class at the PCC SBDC, I was operating by the seat of my pants, literally and figuratively! I was a sole proprietor registered as a DBA in the State of Oregon, but I didn’t even have a business bank account. After taking that class, I set up proper payroll, got a bookkeeper, became an LLC, separated my finances from the business, and put legal structures in place. I had no business plan—and still don’t!—but after meeting with my advisor over the past year I have built pro forma budget and sales projections. I have a much more solid idea of where BBP is going.
What types of services did you receive and/or in which programs did you participate? I attended the Small Business Builders class at the CLIMB center with Sean Harry and Terry Long as lead instructors. That class was very practical and hit every basic level of running a business. I continue to meet with my advisor at least once a month. It has been so helpful to have an impartial voice contribute to the growth of BBP.
How has the SBDC helped you overcome your challenges? My business advisors essentially gave me a roadmap to tackle the overwhelm I was feeling. The SBDC walked me step by step through the important elements of properly running my business. Numbers have always overwhelmed me, but little by little, my SBDC Advisors helped me make progress.
How is your business doing now during the Coronavirus global pandemic and it's challenges? Like so many other businesses, the Covid-19 pandemic forced us to stop in person classes on March 17th. During that first week of closure, I watched people in my industry react immediately by putting out tons of free livestream workout content. There were so many people throwing out content (on Instagram Live, Zoom, FB Live, etc) that it felt like a blur to me. I watched the frenzy for about five days, got a sense of how other fitness businesses were coping, noted the quality of the various livestreams, and decided that ultimately, that path wasn’t for Backbody Project, as it didn’t allow for the quality of product I wanted to give my clients.
Because BBP focuses so much on music in addition to movement, we needed a medium that would allow both of those things to come through as close to crystal clear as possible. I worked early-on to create the best livestream I could by hiring a professional filmmaker who acts as my camera man, sound editor, and producer. We spent money up front on the infrastructure to create a product that we can stand behind. We do 5 to 6 classes via livestream a week from our studio and we’ve been reaching clients all over the world. We have clients in the United States and Canada, Europe, South Africa, and even Panama. Which is crazy to me! And so cool.
In terms of how we’re giving back to our community during this time, I’m offering a 50% discount to anyone who has suffered a job loss due to the lockdown and we’re filming one free class a month that we then put up on YouTube for a week for other people to try.
Filming workouts was always part of my vision, but I kept putting it off because it scared me and also, I didn’t think we had the best setup since we didn't own our own studio. It turns out that our particular workout really translates well to film. April was one of our strongest months ever. After lockdown ends, we’ll continue filming even once we reopen our in-person classes.
What would you say to other small business owners thinking of working with the SBDC? If you feel like you could benefit from the guidance of people who know what they’re talking about in the business space, I would highly recommend it, especially if you’re just starting out. Come to the SBDC with clear objectives and questions, and use the time you have to accomplish your goals and reach important milestones.
Spring Business Builders programs start in April. GET INFORMATION HERE.