Ruth Stover started keeping Auburnites nimble at her Corestar Pilates studio on Auburn’s East Main Street in 2008.
She led group classes there, but the bread and butter of her business was private Pilates instruction, the one-on-one kind.
And while her clientele appreciated their increased mobility, the business itself was not nimble enough to slip the hammer blows of COVID-19-induced financial losses.
So, in her twelfth June downtown, a tearful Stover took the heartrending step and closed shop for good.
“It has been an emotional roller coaster for me,” Stover said. “And as I told many people, I am heartbroken and hopeful at the same time. I had been working toward doing an online version of what I teach for some time, but this was a little ahead of schedule. Sometimes the universe has other plans for us I guess.”
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Among Stover’s clientele were many women with compromised immune systems, Stover said, and in February they began to reveal that they no longer felt comfortable coming in for their once-a-week sessions.
“I’ll just wait until this is all over,” they told Stover, “and it’s safe to come back.”
Beset by a deluge of contradictory information raining down on businesses from the various levels of government, Stover did her best to stay open.
In March, however, came Gov. Jay Inslee’s mandate to close.
With things up in the air for a few weeks in March, Stover said she settled in at the end to wait things out in a place where she felt safe.
But it did not end.
“As we moved into May, the financial losses were in the thousands each month, with no end in sight. I thought we could make it to July at least. But I could see the writing on the wall. I am at a point in my life where I do not want to start over. After 12 years I couldn’t do it,” Stover said.
So yes, the studio is closed, but all is not over for Corestar Pilates.
Stover and her teachers are still at it in a virtual studio and have set a website to offer live-streaming classes five days a week. They also provide a video library so students can access classes anytime and any place at corestarpilates.com.
Stover said she was already thinking about going virtual before the pandemic hit.
“We have been virtual since a week after we were mandated to close in March, and we are offering group classes five days a week as well as virtual private sessions,” Stover said. “My teachers were all committed to continuing as a virtual studio, and our students have been grateful we can still offer them classes while they have been quarantined.”
Stover said she is also at work setting up a studio in her home, where she hopes to see private clients once more when it’s safe to do.
But no doubt about it, closing the Auburn studio was tough.
“At times, it’s been an emotionally difficult change for me, but I want to focus on the positive,” Stover said. “I know that all of life is about change, and this presents a new challenge to grow and learn, a new way of doing business with the potential to reach more people outside of our location in Auburn. I feel grateful to have this wonderful community of our Corestar Family, my students and teachers who are still here with me to carry on what I started. It’s just in a new way of doing business now.”