How Dance Church made a pandemic pivot and created a new online fitness subscription business

Dance Church partnered with Pioneer Square Labs to launch an online streaming product called Dance Church Go. (Photo by Dance Church Go)

On a foggy Saturday morning earlier this month, I was among hundreds of people gathered on the Seattle Center lawn, dancing as if no one was watching.

The event marked one of the first face-to-face sessions since the pandemic began to Dance church, a Seattle-based fitness dance class that has earned a cult following since its launch more than a decade ago. The concept makes fitness fun with loud pop music and dancing.

How Dance Church made a pandemic pivot and created a
Kate Wallich, founder of Dance Church. (Photo of the church of the dance)

But dancing, sweating and touching are frowned upon during the socially estranged days of COVID-19. When the pandemic hit, Dance Church began broadcasting its trainings live, discovering a new business in the process.

Now, as Dance Church shifts to offering in-person classes, it still offers and expands its “dance together, from home” platform, created with the help of Pioneer Square Labs, a Seattle startup studio that invested in Dance Church while was building the online streaming service Dance Church Go earlier this year.

“In my mind, Dance Church is forever,” said the founder of Dance Church. Kate wallich. “Whether it’s on the Internet, whether it’s in person, whether it’s on a boat, or it’s in a park. It’s something that can transcend to different places, and I think that really showed when we launched it on the Internet. “

Dance Church Go is part of a trend towards home workouts that grew in popularity during the pandemic. Apple also launched its own fitness subscription service called Apple Fitness Plus, while Peloton has seen the membership grow.

Dance Church Go subscribers can choose a workout from an on-demand class library. A monthly subscription is $ 19 or a full year is $ 199.

Unlike the in-person version, Dance Church Go classes feature a set of instructors who guide you through the routine. As someone who is not a dancer by nature, I got a bit lost in the in-person training and it was more difficult to listen to the instructor’s instructions. This is not a problem for the on-demand version.

But the in-person version creates excitement just by being around so many people. It’s more about that community feeling, not taking the right steps. With the in-person version, participants can not only observe the instructor for signs, but also a whole group of dancers around them.

The great appeal of Dance Church comes from sharing dance and fitness with other participants. Community involvement is something that has contributed to the success of Dance Church.

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Clara Siegel, Executive Director of Dance Church. (Photo of the church of the dance)

“Dance Church has always been about feeling free in your body and being in a space that you can come to as you are, whether you have a bad day or a good day,” Wallich said. “Everyone comes in from a different place and we all get together, including the teacher, and we let him out in a sweaty catharsis that is released for 90 minutes together. That is special and that is very rare. “

Now, the company is trying to replicate that commitment online with the help of Clara Siegel, who was recently hired as CEO as the on-demand platform was developed. Siegel has a technology background as a product manager for Facebook and as a senior product manager for Tableau and Amazon.

Both Wallich and Siegel know that the appeal of Dance Church is in the community that forms around it. To simulate that feeling in a virtual world, Dance Church offers an optional paid virtual class every Sunday at 10 am, so participants can dance at the same time as their loved ones.

Dance Church Go doesn’t offer a collaboration feature, but Siegel said the team is working on ways to allow people to dance together online.

Wallich said Dance Church aims to create more opportunities for people to get involved, and the online touring community makes it easier.

“There are not that many barriers to entry in many ways, and it is not about improving your body. It’s not about getting good exercise, ”Wallich said. “It could be for some people, but there are many other entry points. It’s about joy, it’s about having fun. It’s about being around other people. And I think there is something in that mix that makes people love it. “

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