Like many people in the fitness industry, March 2020 hit Jacqui Kingswell hard.
The pilates instructor had been running classes out of a studio in Sydney when the government mandated all fitness centres shut due to the pandemic, leaving her suddenly without a job.
"When studios closed, I immediately lost all my work and income and was crying in the car to my husband wondering how I would pay my mortgage," Jacqui told news.com.au.
But fast forward to September 2021 and things couldn't look more different for Jacqui – she now teaches close to 60,000 students around the world through an online studio called The Pilates Class.
The business, which she co-founded with influencer Natasha 'Tash' Oakley, has managed to turn over a revenue in the multi-millions within 12 months of launching, Forbes reported.
When fitness studios shut, Jacqui turned to Instagram to start delivering classes online to her regular clients.
Ones of those students was Natasha, who had also become close friends with Jacqui after taking her classes.
"I met Jacqui at one of her classes at a pilates studio in Sydney and we ended up chatting for an hour after the class and immediately hit it off as friends," Natasha said.
"When I met Jacqui, I had just relocated to Sydney and I was away from my family, friends and team in LA so I was putting it out into the universe that I wanted to meet really amazing, like-minded people."
During lockdown Natasha suggested Jacqui move from Instagram and start offering her online classes via a website so it would be easier to monetise.
"Over the next week Natasha and I were brainstorming about the potential of an online platform and what really took the company to the next level is when she suggested that we partner together to expand this to a global platform and brand," Jacqui said.
In May the pair launched The Pilates Class, a subscription website and app offering Jacqui's signature pilates exercises in videos guided by the instructor.
It's been a phenomenal success thanks to "a lot of hard work" and despite the deluge of on-demand fitness services available.
Jacqui believes what sets The Pilates Class apart from other fitness apps is that it doesn't just focus on the physical aspect of pilates.
"With my dance background of over 25 years, I have been trained by some of the best mentors and teachers and have learned which moves are going to serve me, not just on my mat but off my mat too," she said.
"The benefits of pilates are incredible, and you can carry them throughout your whole life and what makes that so much more amazing is knowing how to serve your body and listening to what it needs."
Natasha labelled Jacqui's pilates teaching style "incredible and unlike any other classes I had ever done".
"When lockdown began, I was so worried that online classes wouldn't have the same effect as in-person classes but with Jacqui as a teacher, her cues make it feel like she is there with you in person," she said.
The app has been promoted mostly through influencer marketing with stars like Shanina Shaik as well as through Natasha's own account.
Natasha has more than 2.5 million Instagram followers and owns successful bikini brand Monday Swimwear with best friend Devin Brugman.
"The power of social media and influencer marketing is so incredible because when you follow someone on Instagram, they build a trust with you about what products they like, what workouts they're doing and so much more," Natasha said.
"This is why we chose this as our primary marketing method because we knew that if we gave influencers the opportunity to try the platform, we hoped that they would love it and start using it regularly to then promote to their followers as organically as possible.
"As an influencer myself, one of my most asked questions was about my workout routine so I really wanted other influencers to try the platform and experience its transformative effects."
The Pilates Class has experienced "exponential growth" and now employs a team of eight based in both Los Angeles and Sydney.
Launching The Pilates Class has seen Jacqui's "whole life changed in such an amazing way".
"Teaching online has meant that I can reach an incredible amount of people all over the world and I feel so grateful every day that I am able to help our members," she said.