's story

How Zest Live shattered expectations during the pandemic

Despite having to close their fitness studio due to COVID, a digital-only rebrand saw Sussex-based ‘Zest Live’ increase their bookings by 2130%! Here’s their story.


Sam Robbins

Business name

Zest Live

Line of work


member since

June 2018

While it’d be downright distasteful to argue that the COVID crisis has been a net positive for small businesses, there have been stacks of cases of entrepreneurs thinking outside the box, and making the undesirable situation work for them.

A superb example of this is Crunch Chorus member Sam Robbins, who started independent fitness studio Sussex Zest in Haywards Heath in May of 2015.

When the studio closed due to the pandemic in March 2020, Sam conducted a survey and discovered that 60% of clients were unwilling to pay a higher fee for a smaller, socially distanced group fitness experience.

With the studio’s commercial lease set to expire in June, Sam opted not to renew, and instead embraced the opportunity to pivot towards delivering online training on a full-time basis.

“The lightbulb moment was a lockdown webinar with the local business growth hub entitled ‘Rewrite Your Business Plan For Post-COVID19,” says Sam. “It was then I realised that the £10,000 government grant wasn’t to pay rent and fight for survival, but to sustain or grow my business however I saw fit”.

Thankfully, the gamble paid off, and investment in audiovisual broadcasting equipment and a full business rebrand (into ‘Zest Live’) produced some astonishing results.

“Our bookings are up 2130% versus the same rolling 30 days last year. Overheads are obviously significantly lower. So whilst 2020 has been a challenging year, it certainly pushed us to think outside the box!”

When asked to share a favourite tip for someone just starting out in business, Sam strongly recommended automating and outsourcing as much as possible.

“It can be quite a challenge for someone like me who is naturally quite frugal in home life... having to invest money to get a return. But without automation and outsourcing, you risk taking it all on yourself. As well as risking burnout, it might mean your clients buy into you - the individual - not the brand, which then makes it very difficult to scale up. My team consists of myself, three instructors, my accountant, bank manager and two business coaches.They’re all pivotal to the success of Zest Live!

As a member of the Crunch Chorus Facebook group, Sam found support from her self-employed peers on getting the most out of the rebrand, and says it was helpful for sourcing answers to answers to questions about “the pros and cons of starting a new company vs 'trading as”.

‘Furry Fridays’, where group members share adorable pictures of their four-legged friends, was also a notable morale-booster for Sam, who discovered the group via attending a Crunch Chorus meetup in Brighton.

“I do hope we can get back there at some point. I’ve gained a few clients, but also skill-traded, and took on some web support.”

Want the same advice and support Sam got when starting or running a business? Join the friendly Crunch Chorus community! You’ll also get access to over 30 jargon-free business guides, and stacks of helpful tools and resources to help you get on with doing what you do best!

Get in contact with 


Corinne followed her passions with sole trader guidance from Crunch

Mental health first aid training


Sole trader pro

Why business owners love us


October 16, 2021

Crunch have been exceptional over the years that I have been with them. When I started my Ltd company it was with Crunch, I made the mistake of moving away to another accountant but ended up coming back to Crunch. The accessibility and ease of use of the platform are big benefits. Additionally the team are exceptional and always happy to guide you through the process


Irina Ashdown

October 12, 2021

Genuinely helpful and professional people! So so happy I signed up with crunch. As a first time entrepreneur I have a lot of things to worry about and accounting has been taken off my shoulders completely. I get answers and guidance on literally everything. I did consider doing accounting by myself at the beginning but so glad that I didn’t because there are so many things to consider even if you are just a contractor with one employee. I am sure I would have missed things and would be losing money. Crunch continuously review to make sure my finances are managed in the most efficient way. Also I get response within 20 minutes which is very quick. So worth the money! Thanks crunch


Raul Ferreira

October 5, 2021

Great service. The software is really easy to use and complete. The customer support provides useful help in a timely fashion.


Running a business can be confusing. We're here to help.

We’ve got over 10 years experience and have helped over millions of businesses with guidance and advice. Our knowledge articles, jargon-free business guides, handy videos and helpful tools and calculators will help answer all your questions. We’ve even got a free self-employed community, Crunch Chorus, with over 50,000 members just like you.