Like just about everyone across America, Marissa Lins remembers Monday, March 16 quite well. As she says, “That day the whole world started shutting down.”
As fear gripped the valley under the threat of Covid-19 this spring, Lins keenly felt the crunch of uncertainty in the community. The sudden isolation was jarring; after all, as an accomplished Pilates instructor, close personal interaction is integral to her line of work. She stopped seeing clients indefinitely, and like so many across the nation, wondered when life might return to normal.
Lins had also, not incidentally, just taken one of the biggest professional leaps of her career. Armed with a long-held dream of operating her own studio in the valley, she had just gone under contract to purchase a commercial space in Basalt.
“In January of this year I started looking around at real estate, and then this listing showed up. It had already been built out as a Pilates and bodywork studio a long time ago but had been sitting empty for about three years,” Lins recalls. “Everything seemed so perfect.”
Closing was set for May 1. A grand opening was planned for May 11. Lins could see her dream unfolding.
“But then, March 16. The momentum completely stopped,” she says. “At that point, we truly weren’t sure what was going to happen or how we would be able to continue. No one knew how long quarantine was going to last.”
Despite the world seemingly falling apart at her feet, Lins was determined to make the best of a distressing situation. She isolated with her partner Mark and their children, and simply got to work.
“I knew I wanted to keep going. To be honest, I started to see that time as an opportunity to get my ducks in a row,” she says. “It was such a heartbreaking time, but on the other hand, I was able to really stop and put together a business plan, order equipment, and get ready to open someday. We knew we would be able to when the time was right. My investors and I never wavered on whether to open or not.”
In addition to the general preparations that come with opening a new business, Lins and her partner took special care in establishing a health safety protocol for the studio.
“We did a lot of research on proper sanitation and distancing that’s appropriate for a small studio,” she notes. “It’s really important to me that my clients feel safe and that they understand I’m compliant with all the guidelines from Pitkin County, the town of Basalt, and the state of Colorado.”
As quarantine pressed on through the spring, Lins saw her original grand opening date draw closer. And then, a break in the clouds: Under the state’s transition to the “Safer at Home” period around the beginning of May, her studio would be permitted to open. Right on schedule.
“I was able to stay on my original timeline through the hardest part of quarantine,” Lins says. “We officially opened May 17, and it’s been wonderful ever since. People are so excited to come and have a place to work out since gyms and health clubs were closed during lockdown. Many people were feeling stiff, especially the ones who hadn’t been able to do their usual physical therapy appointments or do any kind of core work or stretching for several weeks.”
Since opening, Lins reports that her client base has grown steadily. She has been keeping busy with private training and small group classes in the studio, which she describes as “a clean, safe place of comfort—very open, with plenty of light and a breeze that comes through. It overlooks the Roaring Fork River, which my clients love.”
Lins’s tenacious positivity is also something her clients love. Her following in the valley is loyal, supportive, and growing. As she looks back on the unusual circumstances under which she opened her business, she says that the unfortunate timing was transformed into something of a blessing in disguise.
“It was such a strange time, and still is in many ways,” Lins says. “But for me, it all unfolded so well. I am sincerely grateful for the way things have turned out.”