NEW HARTFORD, N.Y. - The papers were signed and it was all systems go for 2014 New Hartford High School graduate Francesca Zumpano's Burn Tone Sculpt (BTS) Fitness Studio in Washington Mills.
Then, the coronavirus pandemic began.
Zumpano was forced to shut her doors before she ever had the chance to open them and had to figure out a way to launch her fitness business without any physical classes.
"The day after I signed my lease we went into a state of emergency in the whole country," said Zumpano. "It was a struggle because even ordering equipment, everything was sold out because everyone was doing at home workouts, so I couldn't find [things like] yoga mats and it was just a little bit of everything there."
Having a new building lease signed and bills to begin paying for, it was difficult to be starting a new business essentially from scratch. However, Zumpano also looked at the many positive things to come out of being forced delay her opening.
"It gave me the opportunity to slow down and to really take into consideration where I'm ordering from and who I'm supporting," she said. "I had the time to compare and contrast little things like different mats and different materials and things like that."
Preparing to implement a variety of classes from other places she has visited, to offer people in the area a "big city" studio feel in this area, Zumpano had to shift her focus toward launching the business virtually.
She has begun live-streaming her 30-50 minute workout classes via Zoom video meetings that can be scheduled through and found on her studio's website. Clients can purchase exclusively online memberships in addition to her eventual full memberships once Zumpano can open the BTS doors.
"At first it was a challenge because it's a little awkward to be in front of a camera when you're used to being in front of a room full of people," she said. "But since I was recording [workouts] before, being able to switch over to the live classes is pretty seamless. I give a lot of credit to all of the gyms in the area who have gone virtual because it is a big step.
"I think it is a huge opportunity because it allows you to hit a bigger demographic and it allows you to reach out to people who don't live in your area."
In addition to Zumpano, Alexa Aiello and Bailey Barker will be the other instructors leading classes at the studio.
Among the classes offered at BTS are Mat Sculpt, Ballet Barre, Hot PIT, and Jabs and Abs.
"All workouts here are really customizable," Zumpano said. "It doesn't matter if you're 15 years old,if you're 90 years old. It doesn't matter if you are a power lifter or if you have never worked out a day in your life. So it is really nice to be able to be in a room where you can have a spectrum of people from all different ages and from all different backgrounds."
According to Zumpano, in prior classes she has taught, she has had clients ranging from professional hockey players, to young mothers returning to fitness after giving birth, to older people who have lost strength and mobility over the years.
Her idea is to focus on muscles that are often overlooked in traditional workouts to support joints, strengthen core, improve posture, alleviate pain and assist in weight loss.
"My main goal of the studio just to show people that there are different ways to work out," Zumpano said. "You don't have to feel like you are punishing yourself, you don't have to feel like you have to struggle during a workout. You can do things that really honor your body and that feel good for you and still see great results."
Upon opening for physical classes, Zumpano is prepared. BTS Fitness Studio has a list of COVID-19 protocols in place to allow for safe attendance at classes.
For more information about Burn Tone Sculpt Fitness Studio and its offerings, visit burntonesculpt.com.