A Frank and Personal Look at Covid Challenges Impacting my Reiki Business
When will I teach Reiki in person again?
This is a question I seem to get in waves, the ebb and flow of which seem to coincide with the ups and downs of Covid. Over the past 2 years the pandemic has been unpredictable in every way save one: just when so many believe it to be “over” it crests yet again.
The cycle begins when my phone and email suddenly swell with this question. In no more than 3 weeks that wave breaks, crashing under the weight of a new variant, rising infections, reinstated mandates or some combination thereof. Six to twelve weeks go by and the question returns only to be quashed again. Lather, rinse, repeat.
When I announced I was vacating my Old City studio in June of 2020, some told me I was acting rashly and would regret it. The evening I prepped for the moving truck the closure order impacting businesses like mine was extended two more months, through that August. And here we are today, China experiencing an intense wave as they did in December of 2019 while we lift more mandates.
Since closing my studio, my answer to “when will you teach in person again?” has remained unchanged: when it is stable enough to do so. But what do I mean by that? For starters, Learn Reiki Philadelphia is a handicapped owned business and I am at high risk despite being vaccinated and boosted. I have to make decisions based on public health as well as my own.
In person classes take months to plan, market and execute. Even if I begin by teaching inside another business like a Yoga studio (as I did before opening my own space in 2013) I’d need to secure and place a deposit for a space, spend considerable time and money marketing it, all the while taking deposits from students to attend. By the time class is set to begin, what will the Covid situation be? How many refunds might I need to issue for ill or exposed students? What happens if the studio needs to close, or if I become exposed or ill?
While this seems like a lot of what ifs, but I’ve had four appointments impacted by Covid this week-three of them were clients who booked with me and one in which I was the client. We had a mask mandate reinstated and lifted in Philadelphia this month, too.
To further see my point, look no further than your favorite yoga, barre or pilates studio. Increasingly, large and multi-location studios are scaling down as their leases come up because, in addition to the challenges I’ve already listed, Landlords are unwilling to negotiate any kind of early release clause should there be another shut down. This puts the full financial burden of a lengthy (usually 5-10 year) commercial lease squarely on the business and/or it’s owner. This coupled with lower attendance, inflation and in some cases burnout from two years of continual pivoting underscore just how volatile and potentially unsustainable things are right now.
After successfully negotiating an early end to my lease in 2020, transitioning classes online and creating new opportunities where I could, it was just last month that I was able to bring my personal finances back to what they were pre-pandemic. It was just earlier this month that I was able to rehire my administrative assistant back with limited hours.
I am tremendously grateful for all of the ongoing support you all have shown me. It is not lost on me that, without all of you, I would not be where I am right now. While I miss teaching in person and can’t wait to see you all again, I know that none of you want me to overextend myself physically or financially.
Until things stabilize, I look forward to continually evolving my offerings to help you feel and be your best, come what may.
Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to rise to the challenge without the need to take on additional risk, and even more for allowing me to continue doing what I absolutely love so very much.