This month’s FHITpreneur, Bright Architecture, is an architecture and interior design firm based in DUMBO, Brooklyn. The Bright team designed Fhitting Room’s three studio locations, and lately they’ve been working on bringing fitness experiences to clients' homes.
We chatted with Nathan, Founder of Bright Architecture, and Yul, Chief Operating Officer, both frequent FHIXers who now take class on Fhitting Room LIVE, about how they are creating home fitness solutions in the COVID-19 era.
How has life and business changed since COVID? Have you pivoted the business offerings at all during this time? Offering any online services?
Yul: Like many businesses, we have been very impacted by COVID. All of our boutique fitness clients had to close their doors in March and that essentially brought the workflow to a halt. We had many projects in various stages of construction until those got shutdown. A few of the studios have used this time to work on design with us, but most just can’t do anything until the classes reopen.
I was chatting with [FHITfounder] Kari at the beginning of the shelter-in-place and she mentioned the huge surge in the sales of home workout gear. She remarked that we use our experience to think about people's home workouts. I took the idea to Nathan and the team - and everyone was excited. Fitness spaces? That's what we know! Fast forward seven weeks and we just launched the:sixthirty, a design service for your home workout space.
I'll let Nathan explain it further.
Nathan: When Yul mentioned Kari’s suggestion, I immediately said yes. We recognized that taking a virtual workout class at home is a new interaction with your instructors, the class, and the boutique studio experience as a whole. This is coupled with the fact that our homes and apartments aren't designed for a workout. Even the most committed of us still don’t have proper storage, the right mat, a good mirror, or even proper sound (or lack of it) - all of the things that can really make your workout a true escape.
The:sixthirty is really to solve for that. It’s an online design service where our amazing designers will help you find and create that perfect space in your home for your fitness, especially those taking at-home classes. It has three different design packages depending on the size of your space. Once you pick your package, we get to know your routines and modalities so we can really customize a solution. At the end, we deliver a fully 3D-rendered design with all of the drawings and instructions for making it happen, along with a complete shopping list for the furniture, equipment, storage units, and whatever else is needed to order.
You mentioned the:sixthirty. What does the name mean?
Yul: The:sixthirty is a play on the prime workout times: 6:30am and 6:30pm. 6:30am is the time you start your day by focusing on cycling, HIIT, or meditation. 6:30pm is also the time you end your day with an all-out class or calm down with restorative yoga. 6:30 is the time that serves as a marker for your day.
As an architecture firm, it wasn't obvious how we can help in this pandemic -- we are not healthcare designers or PPE fabricators. We know that everyone is stuck at home and trying to find structure in this new world. They are trying to find a moment for some space -- both literally and metaphorically. So we thought: Our homes are our havens and now we are looking for it to serve so many unexpected purposes such as the office, the school, the conference room, and the new virtual night out. In all of this, how do you also find space for your physical and mental health? And room for some peace and wellness for yourself? How do you create a new moment for your day which is full of other moments?
Are there any minimum requirements in the size of space needed to create a studio experience at home?
Nathan: We started really studying how we use our homes for working out and wellness. For most of us, we use an area about 8 feet long by 5 to 6 feet wide. That's only about 40 to 48 square feet! But we all know how hard it is to find that area in an NYC apartment or even your spare bedroom. So the question actually becomes not how much space do we need, but where can we create it? How can I rearrange my living room to add a mirror, a pretty storage unit, and the clear floor space without feeling like I have to move a coffee table, a lamp, and a couch to do lunges? Or maybe it’s painting a wall the right color, buying the right rug, or finding the right storage solution in order to define your space and reduce the visual clutter.
How does getting your FHIX play a role in your work?
Yul: Well, I was a bit obsessed with my Fhitting Room workouts before the pandemic and it has become truly essential for me during this time. I plan out my week with 2-3 workouts minimally with various instructors, mostly at the beginning of the day. It makes a huge difference in my energy levels and in clearing my head. Like the premise of the:sixthirty, it's the main thing I do for myself. It's my moment of gaining energy, strength, and health. I can be a better mom, wife, and colleague when I get my FHIX. Especially because, like all of us in this new environment, I'm not sure what will be happening on a day-by-day basis. The rhythm and the consistency of my weekly workouts gives me the ability to feel and to be strong. It helps me navigate everything better and stay sane. So maybe it's actually something I do for me and for everyone around me!
Nathan: I fully support anything that keeps Yul strong. And sane...
Any advice for other entrepreneurs who have been impacted by COVID-19?
Nathan: It's no doubt a scary time, especially for entrepreneurs and small business owners. My only advice is that the drives and passions that led you to start your journey, are the same things that will allow you to change. The impact of COVID was such a seismic shift that it is easy to think it's only temporary and we can wait it out until things return to normal. But things are not going to return to the normal we knew; even if, at the end of the day, there’s only a subtle shift in how we live our lives. One of those shifts is an intimate knowledge of how we use our homes when it truly is our shelter. It wasn’t until we really started thinking about and accepting this, that our firm could return to what we do best, which is to design and solve problems. This was the premise of the:sixthirty.