Closure strikes twice for fitness centers
Minnesota’s fitness centers closed on March 17 for three months, then reopened only to find they had to close again. Governor Tim Walz made the announcement on Wednesday, November 18, ordering the closure of fitness centers before midnight Friday. Brainerd / Baxter gyms that are closing include Brainerd Family YMCA and Planet Fitness, both in Brainerd; Takedown Gym, FitQuest Athletic Club, and CrossFit Grow, all at Baxter; and Anytime Fitness at Brainerd and Baxter.
Jeremy Pollock, owner of Anytime Fitness at Brainerd, said the fitness center has not recovered from the first shutdown in March. Anytime Fitness lost around 30% of its members who never returned.
“We’ve lost a ton since the first stop and then he never really recovered,” Pollock said. “And this one is going to be really bad because normally this is the time of year when we start our busy season. Summer was bad, but summer is usually our slow season. That’s when we start to ramp up and … where things really start to get busy for people wanting to start exercising in the gym and we get new memberships as people making New Years resolutions and all the rest .
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Pollock said they have a lot of older members who are on a fitness program where they only pay when they hit the gym, which they don’t do during the pandemic.
“Our members are frustrated as you can see from their comments in our Facebook post,” Pollock said. Anytime Fitness in Brainerd posted on their Facebook page so gyms should stay open.
“CONCLUSION: Health clubs are NOT the problem, THEY ARE THE SOLUTION to maintain public health,” the post said. “These are, in fact, the safest environments people can visit compared to other forms of retail, entertainment, or any other place, right now.
“We intend to do everything possible to remain open to serve you.”
The post also stated that if members agreed to keep Anytime Fitness open, they should contact the governor.
The post claimed there have been 48 reported outbreaks with a total of 747 cases originating from fitness centers out of all reported cases in the state. While these numbers are correct based on the most recent Minnesota Department of Health Restaurant and Social Outbreaks summary released on November 13, it is not necessarily correct to say that these are the only cases associated with health centers. fitness. Outbreak statistics do not take into account the smaller number of cases associated with fitness centers that may not have met the threshold to be considered an epidemic, nor do they include outbreaks affecting only employees. or secondary cases, which would constitute an additional transmission of these cases. to household members, co-workers or other people.
In a speech Wednesday night, Walz said the reimposed restrictions were aimed at curbing the virus, which is spreading exponentially across the state and putting enormous strain on the healthcare system. He noted that the businesses affected were areas that people tended to congregate in and were those over which there could be some control. Walz implored the Minnesotans to also avoid private gatherings of any kind with people outside their home. At Thursday’s press conference, a number of state health officials spoke out in favor of Walz’s restrictions.
“Gyms, fitness centers and exercise studios must also recall their operations,” said the decree. “… Science shows us that exercise leads to higher exertion and exhalation levels – often in people not wearing masks – dramatically increasing the amount of respiratory aerosol droplets airborne. that can carry COVID-19. “
Walz said Wednesday he knows the restrictions aren’t easy or even fair.
“But it’s a sacrifice we have to make,” Walz said. “If we do not do this and continue this spread, we will put with absolute certainty our hospitals and those in need of care as well as the providers of care.” “
Walz has spoken directly to small business owners who are feeling the pain of the decree.
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“To these small business owners, we need our federal partners to step up their efforts and provide the relief we need. You are rendering a public service beyond anything that should be asked of you. By closing your doors and putting your financial well-being at risk, you are protecting the lives of your neighbors, ”Walz said Wednesday, adding that a stimulus package was needed to help small businesses.
Pollock said closing their doors was difficult not only for him and the three staff members – Rick Bartkowitz, Mark Fussy and Laurie Miller – but also for their members. He said many of them finally got back to their routine after the first stop.
“It’s winter and people are already depressed from COVID and now they’re like, you’re taking me out of the gym,” Pollock said of his limbs. “Our members… are the kind of people who come to the gym to train, not to train outdoors. They come to the gym because it’s part of the camaraderie. Our personal trainers help and motivate our members to come back, to keep members of our community healthy. Then when you’re just stuck at home you can’t invite people in, I mean the gym is the only outlet for people and unfortunately gyms should be the last place to close.
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Joan Peterson, owner of the FitQuest Athletic Club north of Baxter, said having to shut down the fitness center – now twice – is financially and emotionally difficult. She said the first time they were closed they had a lot of subscription cancellations and she didn’t charge people for their monthly subscriptions which meant no income went into it. ‘business.
“A lot of my members are SilverSneakers (adults aged 65 and over), and only 10% of them came back right away,” Peterson said. “So in terms of income, it was huge. I started to recover a bit because the basketball teams came here to train because they didn’t have gym time in the schools.
When the fitness centers reopened in the summer after the first shutdown, they were still struggling.
“When you’re off for three solid months, people who exercised found a way to do it at home, or found other options, or they quit,” Peterson said. “When people stop training they lose their (ambition) and it takes time to build a habit, it doesn’t take long to break that habit, so, you know, it was just a three-edged sword. . … it’s like it couldn’t get any worse (until it does).
Peterson said none of his active members had told him they had tested positive for COVID-19 since the gymnasium reopened in June.
“It’s a place to keep people healthy, and like I’ve said a hundred times, or a thousand times, you lose me when you can go to Walmart, Menards, or one of the big box stores and be around hundreds of people. but you can’t get in here and it’s a very spacious gym, ”said Peterson. “You can stay away. It’s about keeping people healthy. If anyone must have contracted the virus, it would be me because I’m here 55 hours a week. And I’m fine.
“And what’s more, they not only take away my right to run a business, but they take away everyone’s right to choose to enter or not. You know, if you don’t feel safe and you don’t want to come in, you don’t come in, but now they’re taking that choice away from you and it’s not fair. It’s not good to do this in a place that keeps people healthy … a lot of people consider a health club essential to their health.
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Peterson said don’t get me wrong, she thinks the coronavirus is serious and he’s been affected by it like everyone else.
“Some people are dying from the coronavirus, including my uncle,” Peterson said. “It’s very sad. It’s terrible, nobody wants to lose anyone. But the death rate is very low.
Joe Ciardelli, director of Takedown Gym north of Baxter, said in the world of fitness they are a tight-knit family and everyone will go through these tough times.
“We will do what we always do,” Ciardelli said. “Everyone’s going to have to linger a little bit longer and follow our rules and do what we’re supposed to do so that we can get through this and come out stronger and better on the other side.”
Ciardelli said the Takedown Gym closed at 7 p.m. on Friday, November 20, and then they would lock the doors until they got the green light to reopen by the state. Ciardelli said he has requested as much funding as possible that is available to businesses during the pandemic.
All of the fitness center owners surveyed said they applied for small business loans. Peterson said the loan helped, but the part she could use for her expenses only covered about a third of her costs. Pollock said the loan barely covered his rent. The loan was $ 10,000 and his monthly rent was $ 8,000 and it was closed for three months.
Ciardelli, like all fitness center owners, said he feels for his members, who work hard to try to stay fit and healthy in today’s tough world.
“Minnesota, our members, have always been a warm bunch, so we’re going to have to come together a little bit more and find creative ways to interact, stay healthy and stay in shape,” Ciardelli said. “We have a pretty solid plan in place where we’re going to do as much as possible virtually. Thus, our members will have access to our online course library.