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Taylor Smith had a dream. 

Growing up in Florida, she had a love of fun, fitness and being outside. She studied exercise science in college, got certified in exercise physiology by the American College of Sports Medicine, took a job as a personal trainer in a gym — and, after a detour to a desk job in the sales field — found what seemed to be the ideal avenue: She decided to open a local chapter of SweatNET, a networking company that connects people with gyms and hosts health-inspired social events. 

It’s not every day you meet a twentysomething CEO willing to take on the daunting responsibility of being a solo business owner. But this was everything Smith wanted and loved: fitness, local events, socializing. So she took the plunge.

And then the coronavirus happened.

Smith had no way of knowing in September that just six months into owning her new business, nearly all of her clients would be forced to close.

Initially, when gyms were forced to shut their doors indefinitely, Smith was afraid. “This is going to crash and burn,” she worried. Her livelihood depended on SweatNET Tampa Bay’s success.

But after an initial meltdown, she pulled herself back up and faced the challenge head-on, deciding to move forward with her launch. All gyms forced to close their doors? Not gonna stop Smith. The young entrepreneur took it in stride and has continued to work diligently to promote her business. If anything, Smith muses, working with SweatNET can be more advantageous than ever for local fitness centers. SweatNET’s platform enables gyms to use their own supply of equipment and props to record videos and stream live workouts — a tactic nearly every gym is finding a need for during COVID-19.

“Our community needs this, and that is not changing,” Smith realized. “So I am not changing. I’m not going to change how much work I put in and how much effort I am giving to our partners and our members. I will stay the course and know it will pay off in the long run.”

A SweatNET yoga session pre-social distancing in South Tampa’s Hyde Park Village courtyard.

Though all of SweatNET’s social events have been cancelled due to COVID-19, the company continues to ramp up its online presence, posting countless workouts — many of which require no equipment — to help people maintain their physical and mental health during these trying times. SweatNET is currently offering a free month of streaming service to subscribers to help encourage people to stay fit and active while isolated. They are hosting virtual 5ks to raise money for charity and posting tips and tricks to help people stay well.

While focusing more time and energy than ever on online networking and virtual presence, Smith says SweatNET is gearing up for a busy season once gyms open up again. Smith anticipates the public will have a big appetite for social connection after being cooped up for weeks (months?) on end — and SweatNET is ready to fulfill that need.

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