Small businesses have seen their companies change overnight due to the coronavirus. In our #openforbusiness series, we're highlighting Northwestern Mutual clients who have been forced to get creative in order to adapt to these unprecedented times and keep their businesses running. We hope you'll get inspiration from their stories and help support them whenever possible.

Business: US Fitness

Senior Vice President of Marketing: Nancy Terry

Location: McLean, VA


At US Fitness, our mission is to deliver the ultimate fitness experience to every member, every time. The company employs over 5,000 employees in 50 health clubs in Virginia, Maryland, Washington, D.C., West Virginia, Georgia and Missouri under the brand names of Onelife Fitness, Sport&Health and Crunch Fitness.

When we closed our clubs in March, we had to make the difficult decision to furlough most of our employees until the crisis passes, but we plan to bring them all back on when we reopen our doors. We believe exercise is critical for boosting immunity, releasing stress and building strength — and it’s especially important during this time. So we want to continue to help people exercise in any way they can.

I have been with the company for more than 26 years and I worked with a core team to create a plan to keep us moving and improve our clubs for when we reopen. Here are the steps we are taking.


As soon as the COVID-19 closures went into effect, we began to offer our classes and training online through Facebook Live so that our members and families could remain consistent with their fitness journeys.

The instructors made the transition from teaching a class with 40 to 50 people in a studio to teaching in front of a camera in their homes. It is very different than an in-person class, but clients can still communicate through comments.

Our weekly schedule features about 50 of our most popular classes taught by our expert instructors, and they are for all fitness levels so anyone can participate. We have had more than 180,000 views per week, so our members have really embraced working out at home. The testimonials and engagement from the posts are extremely rewarding. They show how we are helping each other cope during this crisis.

I have been taking two or three classes each day so I can experience our live schedule and see the feedback from our audience. My favorites are HIIT, Barre, Zumba and Yoga — to recover!


During the club closure, our six-person management team came together to develop a live streaming service in the span of about eight weeks, which we named Onelife Anywhere On Demand. We filmed 30 to 40 videos each week and a staff member uploads each new one as it’s completed. We still have the Facebook Live platform, but now all of our members can access these on-demand video workouts; non-members can sign up for a 14-day free trial and then continue for a small monthly fee.

There is a lot of competition in the fitness on-demand space, but our classes are taught by real gym instructors and expert trainers whose workouts have helped thousands of members get results. Our instructors are very relatable and cater to all levels of fitness, which is inspirational, especially during this difficult time.


We are also spending this time installing an airPHX air filtration system in each of our clubs. It has a medical grade disinfectant to kill microbes in the air and on surfaces 24 hours a day. The technology is designed to decontaminate the air and the spaces, including the equipment, the floor and all surfaces at the gym.

Providing a clean and safe environment is our number-one priority for when we reopen. We will also practice strict social distancing and limit class sizes so there can be six feet of distance between each person. Cardio and strength equipment will be spread out to give each person plenty of space. We will continue to use medical grade cleaning supplies and wipe down all doors, equipment, mats, etc., between each workout. And we’ve set up several equipment cleaning stations and hand-sanitizing stations in each club.

Nancy Terry is a client of Northwestern Mutual. She works with Wealth Management Advisor Ted Shanahan.

Do you know a Northwestern Mutual client who owns a small business that has had to pivot due to the coronavirus? Click here to share the story with our editorial team.

Recommended Reading