This article is part of our series “COVID-19: 1 Year Later,” exploring the ways COVID-19 has affected and changed daily life over the last year. For two weeks, we surveyed our readers on how COVID-19 has affected them. Read our survey results here.Today, we are sharing the story of how one local small business has weathered the pandemic storm.
Michael Burrows, owner of Beyond Aquatics, is an Iraq War veteran and he knows how to survive, but COVID-19 hit his business just like everyone else. His time in the Army might have taught him how to keep going in hard times, but the pandemic is an enemy you can’t see coming. Initially, he made all the necessary adjustments to his business, and then, as it kept going, he decided to take the time to be a better father, a better business owner, and to look for the “lemonade” in the process.
Beyond Aquatics offers indoor pools with specialty aquatic therapy/exercise equipment for weight loss, low-impact exercise, pain relief, physical therapy, and more.
“During the pandemic,” said Burrows, “I was able to take some time off of work, see the Grand Canyon, spend more time being an amazing dad, improve my life, and make my business better. I also took the time to examine and observe my own mental and emotional processes, which lead me to experience life in a fuller and more enjoyable way.”
Like all other businesses, his initial response was to shorten hours of operation, and they stopped being open on Sundays. They also increased sanitation measures.
“Many days I came home early and spent more time with my family because no one was coming to the business,” said Burrows.
Burrows changed his business strategy and limited his services to accommodate fewer customers at a time. They stopped their group “Mommy and Me” swimming classes and went to all private lessons.
“We were already doing private swim lessons,” explained Burrows, “and that did not change except that a lot fewer people were signing up for them. We did not lock down completely. We limited the amount of people in the pool at one time, whereas before we did not limit.”
They became even more private and one-on-one with their classes. They started giving their members access to their facilities at night or early in the morning, allowing them to exercise and relax in a more secluded and private atmosphere.
“Overall, the pandemic helped us to improve ourselves and our way of doing business,” said Burrows. “I see us keeping all of the changes for the foreseeable future, and adding some new services like virtual swimming lessons, in-person massage therapy, and some other possible alternative health services.”
As with many people, some of his clients have been experiencing depression, anxiety, and isolation. Swimming and relaxing in the pool helps ease some of these feelings. He wants to do what he can to help them cope.
Burrows is thankful for the SBA Disaster Relief Loans. He was able to keep operating thanks to the receipt of one of these loans. “Without help from the SBA,” he said, “I do not think the business would have survived.”
He sadly lost staff because he could not give them enough hours, saw longer delivery times on supplies, and larger clients who sent their patients to Beyond Aquatics quit sending them. But his small staff and close friends stayed healthy.
“I have turned this past year’s lemons into lemonade,” added Burrows, “and I am very excited about the future to come!”
236 Robert Rose Drive Murfreesboro, TN 37129
Phone: (615) 962-9500
Mon – Fri 9:00 am – 7:00 pm
Saturday 9:00 am – 4:00 pm
Sunday 10:00 am – 2:00 pm