No one expected a pandemic of these proportions. Covid-19 has not only affected the health and wellness of millions, but it has also been severe in virtually every business and sector. Skating, particularly the figure skating community, is no exception.
Many skating rinks and businesses are closed, and several others have been hit by low attendance. Skating firms and Coaches alike have pivoted to online classes and building virtual communities.
One particular Coach stands above many others in social media reach, online classes, and pivoting through the pandemic. Michelle Hong, a former competitive skater, turned coach and entrepreneur, was already "ahead of the curve."
Coach Hong is also an ambassador for PolyGlide Ice and has done a fantastic job integrating our brand with hers. We’re going to talk about Coach Hong, her use of social media, and how she has supported PolyGlide Ice. We’ll also cover how other Coaches can use PolyGlide Ice to their advantage in this pandemic.
A Little About Coach Hong
Coach Michelle Hong is based out of Oakland, California. Before her coaching journey, Hong was a competitive figure skater at Junior and Senior levels. Her noticeable achievements as a competitive skater include the 2009 Central Pacific Regional Silver Medalist as a Junior and the 2010 ISI World Champion at the Senior Level. She eventually moved on to coaching and choreography, starting the company, Coach Michelle Hong. Hong’s company is dedicated to bringing training and skating-related content to the masses.
The Power Of Social Media
Social media has been a central part of Hong’s business model. She’s been slowly building her YouTube and Instagram channels. Hong’s content surrounds simple to advanced techniques helping skaters to build a solid foundation. From a one-foot glide, loop jumps, crossovers, and more, Hong covers them all. She even answers her follower’s questions with video tutorials.
Hong also creates content off the ice, helping her followers learn stretches and exercises to improve strength and flexibility, a crucial part of figure skating. Functional movements make the content accessible to people who don’t skate, significantly improving her reach.
Tik Tok has been incredibly useful in growing her brand, as she’s seen significant growth on the platform over the last year. With over 350,000 followers, her hard work on content creation has paid off, landing her in publications like Disrupt Magazine and US Figure Skating.
Coach Hong shows us all the indelible power of social media. Her work since 2016 has positioned her to be ready for the demands of digital connection. Many hope to continue their training during a pandemic, and Hong’s content has delivered.
Making Skating Accessible Through The Pandemic
With a headstart online versus other skaters and coaches, Hong has consulted, provided coaching, and mentorship during the pandemic. A host of content since 2016 built her social proof, allowing her to offer classes via Coach Michelle Academy.
She turned her popular stretching videos into a Stretching course for Beginners, Intermediate, and Advanced skaters. The course, taught live by Hong via Zoom, covers the techniques skaters should practice executing moves on the ice. There will be more content to come, including Pre-Recorded courses.
Even if you don’t have access to a rink or have synthetic ice tiles at home, these exercises are geared towards bringing you massive value and preparing you to be a stronger skater. Other coaches and skating instructors must find ways to connect with students and still earn an income. Start by leveraging tools like Zoom and course creation software like Teachable. To get the word out, focus on a social media platform like Hong, giving as much value as possible.
Highlighting Diversity In Skating
Coach Hong is passionate about teaching others to skate and making what many consider a privileged sport more accessible. She’s on a mission to improve diversity and accessibility in the sport. Her Cambodian-American heritage places her in a position of empathy. She also struggled with inclusion, affordability, and accessibility. These experiences make her a key Membership Growth Consultant for US Figure Skating.
Coach Hong regularly highlights skaters of color and differently-abled skaters on her social media platforms. Her weekly IG Live segment, Paving The Way, highlights diversity and inclusivity in the sport.
Her efforts have also led her to co-found FSDIA, the Figure Skating Diversity, and Inclusion Alliance. The movement and its petition seek to drive the conversation and bring about change in the sport. Diversity has always been a concern in all aspects of skating. While decision-makers in skating acknowledge an overall discrimination issue, FSDIA feels little has happened to turn those words into action.
FSDIA seeks to “foster a more diverse & inclusive figure skating environment worldwide through policy change, program development & funding for the next generation of athletes.”
Hong has collaborated with Diversify Ice Fellowship and Foundation, a nonprofit we’ve had the privilege of working with as well. These initiatives align with our belief that skating should be accessible to all.
Skating In Your Kitchen?
Like Coach Hong, the pandemic has affected thousands of skater’s ability to visit rinks at will. She had to pivot, and PolyGlide Ice’s Spin Station was a great solution. We provide High Molecular Weight panels that can be installed on almost any hard service.
These panels interlock like puzzles and are perfect for skates. The Spin Station is specially made for figure skating. Its triangular panel design helps set up the tiles that allow skaters to spin, turn, and jump safely. We’ve always encouraged setting up Spin Stations in your driveway, spare room, basement, or backyard. But we were pleasantly surprised to see Coach Hong set up in her kitchen! Since then, she’s created unique content on Tik Tok and Instagram.
For starters, she created content on what it feels like to skate in your kitchen. PolyGlide Ice feels close to natural ice, which allows Coach Hong to train in her own space. Since then, her kitchen skating videos have gained popularity on Tik Tok, with some earning over 400,000 views, like this one, where she confirms our Spin Station does not ruin blades. She continues to be a great ambassador for the brand, showing off amazing YouTube content as well. As a takeaway, people who can be themselves while being authentic, original, and consistent can find success online.
Are you getting the best out of your synthetic ice panels?
If you’re an ice skating coach or enthusiast, you can gain an advantage with our synthetic tiles. We see our Spin Station and other products as an investment in your long-term skating career since synthetic ice panels last several years. Here are some ways you can use your at-home rink during the pandemic:
- Have one-on-one (or more) classes in person: Move your training from the crowded rink to the safety of your home. Have your student come over to your location to practice on your Spin Station. Make sure to follow the proper safety protocols so everyone can train without the risk of infection. If done right, you can have several students creating a sustainable source of income during the day.
- Create skating related content: Like Hong, you too can start teaching your audience your skating techniques and tips. Social media is not a zero-sum game. More followers for someone else does not mean fewer followers for you. You can build your own tribe with consistent content. Synthetic ice panels allow you to skate at home while expressing your personality. Aim for platforms like TikTok and Instagram. In your bio, find a way to connect with your audience personally (for example, by collecting emails or text messages).
- Seek out sponsorships and collaborations: Exposure to the right person can open the door to sponsorships or partnerships with businesses. Influencer Marketing can add an extra income source to sustain your business or practice during the pandemic. Don’t be afraid to pitch to companies in your field, even with a small following. Micro-influencers (someone who has between 1,000 and 10,000 followers) can be valuable as they are more engaged.
Skate through the Pandemic
Skating is not just a way to earn income for Coach Hong. It’s a way for her to be herself, be creative, and impact the lives of others. The pandemic has no doubt created a strain on her business, but she powered through. It’s not been easy as Hong still skates at her local rink, making sure to follow the proper safety protocols. Even there, she posts helpful (and funny) content. She’s a key ambassador for our products since it allows her to hone her skills and keep her competitive edge. If you want to learn more about Coach Hong, check out her website or follow her YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram accounts.
While things may come back to some semblance of life as we remember, virtual learning is the future, regardless of your niche. Consider setting up space for your ice skating needs at home. You get to skate year-round and can use your at-home station to navigate the pandemic. Feel free to contact us for more information or a consultation on providing panels to suit your needs.