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

Dance Church has partnered with Pioneer Square Labs to launch an online streaming product called Dance Church Go. (Go to dancing church photo)

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

The event marked one of the first in-person sessions since the pandemic began for Dance Church, a Seattle-based fitness dance class that has gained cult following since its inception more than a decade ago. The concept makes fitness with loud pop music and dance fun.

Kate Wallich, founder of the Dance Church. (Photo of the dance church)

But dancing, sweating and touching is somehow frowned upon in the socially distant days of COVID-19. When the pandemic broke out, Dance Church began streaming its workouts live – and discovered a brand new business in the process.

Now that Dance Church is moving to offering face-to-face classes, it is still offering and expanding its “Dance Together, from Home” platform, which is being run with the help of Pioneer Square Labs, a startup studio in Seattle that was being built at Dance Church The Dance Church Go online streaming service was created earlier this year.

“In my eyes, Dance Church is forever,” said Dance Church founder Kate Wallich. “Whether on the Internet, in person, on a boat, in a park. It’s something that can be carried over to different places, and I think it really proved that when we launched it on the internet. “

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

Dance Church Go subscribers can choose a workout from a library of on-demand courses. A monthly subscription is $ 19, and a full year is $ 199.

Unlike the personal version, the Dance Church Go courses feature a series of instructors to guide you through the routine. As someone who was not a dancer by nature, I got a little lost in personal training and it was more difficult to hear Teacher’s instructions. This is not a problem for the on-demand version.

But the personal version creates excitement just because she is with so many people. It’s more about that sense of community, not about getting the steps right. With the in-person version, participants can not only watch the instructor for clues, but also a whole group of dancers around them.

The broad appeal of the Dance Church is based on the fact that it shares dance and fitness with other participants. Community involvement has contributed to the success of Dance Church.

Clara Siegel, CEO of the Tanzkirche. (Photo of the dance church)

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

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

Both Wallich and Siegel know that Dance Church’s attraction lies in the community that forms around them. To simulate this feeling in a virtual world, Dance Church offers a paid virtual class every Sunday at 10 a.m. so that participants can dance with their loved ones at the same time.

Dance Church Go doesn’t offer a collaborative feature, but Siegel said the team is working to enable people to dance together online.

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

“In many ways, there aren’t many barriers to entry, and it’s not about improving your body. It’s not about getting a good workout, ”said Wallich. “It might be for some people, but there are so many other entry points. It’s about joy, it’s about fun. It’s about being with other people. And I think there’s something in that mix that makes people love her. “

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