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Darla Moore School of Business

Alumna, gym owner weathering pandemic by staying engaged with clients and offering numerous virtual events

May 14, 2020

Moore School alumna Lauren Truslow (’05 management and marketing) has not been sitting on her couch waiting for the COVID-19 pandemic to pass. The barre3 and The Nail Barre business owner has been busier than ever virtually teaching classes and constantly engaging with her clients.

With workout studios and nail salons in downtown Columbia and the Lake Murray area in South Carolina, Truslow had to make a major shift in how she delivered her services when the pandemic began shutting down consumer-facing businesses.

Beginning in mid-March on Zoom, Truslow began teaching barre3, yoga classes, kids’ classes, mindfulness exercises and date night barre3 classes with her husband, Neal ('06 management and marketing; '09 USC law). Truslow said she has taught at least one class every day except Easter Sunday.

“I think we all know now, more than ever, the value of connection,” Truslow said. “This has all been so isolating and lonely, and people need connection, even if it's virtual. They need reasons to smile, laugh and have fun. I have been with my clients every step of the way, every single day. My goal has been to give my clients an hour to disconnect from the fear, sadness and anger and connect to joy and happiness.”

Each week, Truslow has taught some of her barre3 classes in costume related to a theme, including 80s with a windbreaker suit, Britney Spears with braids and a white button-up shirt and Lady Gaga with wig, sunglasses and gloves.

To keep clients accountable and motivated with physical activity during the quarantine, Truslow created a virtual sticker and tracking system with prizes like leggings, water bottles and The Nail Barre gift cards.  

While the majority of her clients come to barre3 to exercise, Truslow has added social activities to her virtual offerings because she understands many of her clients also form friendships in her classes.

They have held book clubs on Zoom with small groups. One week, she brought in a wine sommelier for a date night; clients could buy the wine and pick up at the studio and then tuned in for a two-hour wine school.

Truslow has supported other local women-owned businesses near her studio for her virtual events with Monkee’s clothing store doing a runway show, The Gourmet Shop delicatessen advising participants on how to make an elaborate cheese board and Studio K Columbia hair salon going over hair tips and tricks.

“Barre3 is so unique because we have always had a lot of events and opportunities for our clients to come together. Before the pandemic, we would do at least one in-studio and one out-of-studio event per month,” Truslow said. “I feel like this is so important, because as an adult, it is hard to meet people and make new friendships. So, I have truly made it part of our mission to bring our tribe together in and out of class, and we will continue to do that as soon as is safely possible.”

Like most of Truslow’s clients, Lucy Blair (’11 HR management) has juggled staying active while being home with her three children under age 5 since the pandemic quarantine began. Blair has also participated in some of the online social events.

“[Truslow] is such a motivating instructor, such a natural coach, that it's been really fun to keep up with her,” Blair said. “Not only have the classes helped me feel comfortable in my body and bring some peace to my mind during quarantine, but the other fun activities like wine and tequila tastings have fostered a sense of community amongst all the members tuning in, and sipping, together from home.”

Initially teaching barre3 classes out of her home, Truslow opened her first barre3 studio on Rosewood Drive in 2014 and moved to her own building on Devine Street in 2019. She opened downtown’s The Nail Barre when she moved to Devine Street. She also opened her Lake Murray barre3 studio in 2016 and Lake Murray’s The Nail Barre in 2018.

“Since I have known [Truslow], she has had a unique skill to never give up and keep going. She is the combination of creative, business minded and thoughtful,” said Alexa Booth Godwin (’99 marketing), a barre3 member who initially took classes out of Truslow’s home. “She has been a force in helping her clients stay positive and connected to others during this pause in our lives. She is an energizer bunny that never stops thinking about making her craft better.”

Truslow said she has personally responded to every text, email and social media message from her clients.

“I am not immune to the worry, anger and sadness [of the pandemic]; I have all the same emotions they do,” she said. “The hour we work out together or have a wine tasting – or I dress up like a pop star – that gives me the ability to refill my cup and recharge my own batteries.”

Physical activity and social connection are major stress relievers, Truslow added, and she is doing her part to help her clients through the pandemic and all of the other stresses in their lives, even if they have to do it virtually for now.

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