As health professionals begin opening their clinic doors following the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions, Rebecca Libby of Mahone Bay is one physiotherapist who has moved at least a portion of her practice onto the digital highway.
Libby, who specializes in women pelvic health, owns the multidisciplinary clinic Zenith Physio Pilates on Keddy Bridge Road, just outside of Mahone Bay. As well as physiotherapy, the clinic offers the services of a naturopath, osteopath and massage therapist, as well as grief, loss and trauma counselling.
And it's now branched out to an online physio Pilates workout service.
Libby credits her husband, Liam Taylor, with assisting on the "technical side" to create a website - zenithworkouts.com - that hosts a series of workout videos.
According to Libby, she's had the idea of online physio Pilates for some time. Initially, her thinking was to cover pre- and post-natal issues.
"It's so important to take the time to prepare for birth and to recover, and yet those women often have other children that they're tending to, or they live far away; they can't make that trip to do a one-hour class, and who's going to watch the baby?" she explained to LighthouseNOW.
To that end, Libby pre-recorded about six or seven pre- and post-natal physio Pilates sessions.
Meanwhile, she was leading regular individual and group Pilates exercise sessions. Libby was in the middle of her latest 10-week group session in mid-March when the pandemic and ensuing government health restrictions hit. It soon became apparent that group classes were no longer safe or viable, she says.
"As soon as they said six feet away from each other; in our space we can't do that. Our space is only able to hold 10 people anyway." Moreover, she notes, gatherings were limited to five people, which was uneconomical from a business perspective. Moreover, the exercisers were breathing harder in a small space.
"It's definitely more risky than just having a one-on-one practitioner."
It wasn't long before she would shut the physical doors to the practice itself amid the pandemic restrictions.
She began live-streaming workout sessions on Facebook and then transitioned to focus mainly on pre-recorded, subscription-based sessions on the website.
Potential subscribers can view free demonstration videos, while for $19 a month subscribers have access to a series of videos and one weekly pre-recorded class. That compares with the $19 clients would pay for each live class.
The website covers a spectrum of issues such as pre- and post-natal concerns and osteoporosis, as well as offers various levels of physio Pilates instruction.
According to Libby, her clients weren't so interested in doing closed, live sessions with such platforms as Zoom.
"They were just interested in having a class that was designed for them once a week like they always did."
Libby has designed a category for her clients called Spring Session. "And I'm thinking about them when I create the class. " The clients are given a reminder an hour ahead of the class, either by text or email, "and we just make sure it's available at that time.," says Libby.
"It's a great way to maintain physical activity while our movement about the world is restricted. Though we would much rather have you in our 'house,' we're happy to be virtually invited into your living room," suggests the website.
However, as a business model, the service is an exercise in patience, admits Libby. For now, it's "not even close" to being lucrative.
While she's aware other online workout services are charging more, she emphasizes that her sessions are physio pliates specifically. "It's usually physiotherapy, with correction. If I can't see them, I didn't feel I could justify charging the same."
And, she says, it might be something additional to the regular clinic offerings that people are willing to pay for if they choose not to attend Libby's live classes in the future.