The last day we had a large group class was on March 16, 2020. It was my birthday and after class, the students had a cake for me and sang me Happy Birthday. With a heavy heart, we decided to close down our facility the very next day on March 17. In the beginning of all this, we knew very little about COVID-19. I think everyone panicked at some point. We lost about 20% of our students during the first week, mostly the new students and white belts. As people lost their jobs, they immediately contacted me so I could cancel their payments. For the next 4 weeks, we lost about 2-3 students per week for various reasons. We have no hard feelings because everyone is going through a difficult time right now.
In April, when we realized the lockdown was going to be longer than 2 weeks, we started doing zoom classes. We are very thankful to the students who kept their memberships active during this time. I even had a student contact me to ask if I wanted to meet them so they could pay their tuition (as they usually paid in cash). A few students also reached out to update their card info’s. From talking to other Jiu-Jitsu academy owners and other small fitness centers, I discovered that very few of them received any grants or loans. We all still need to pay rent and utilities. In 2 months, we saw our revenue drop in half. They say that businesses can’t be evicted during this time, but the question now is this: what's going to happen after with the accumulation of 2-3 months’ rent debt?
We are still technically closed in Nevada. We don’t even know what phase of reopening other gyms and fitness businesses are in. Our plan is to most likely take the risk and open again on June 1st. Recovery is going to be long and unfortunately, I don’t think jiu-jitsu will go back to the way it was for a while. We definitely have to evolve, adapt, offer family training classes, and even no contact classes for those who are more vulnerable or simply because they want to keep social distancing. We want to support everyone!
Through all of this chaos, we made the decision as a family to focus on the recovery of our family business. We owed Alliance a few months of membership fees and some merchandise we got from them. We don’t want our debt to keep stacking up. Raul spoke to Mestre Cavalcannti and he was very positive about our decision. He said we should focus on recovering and to not worry. We paid off our debt with Alliance. At this time, we are not interested in joining any other affiliations. We successfully registered our school with the IBJJF and now look forward to a brighter future.