Meet the Gym that is an Essential Service and is Staving off the COVID-19 Financial Hit

April 2, 2020 by
Credit: Todd Turner
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Not only did 60-year-old Will Powell dominate the men’s 60-plus division during the CrossFit Games Age Group Online Qualifier this March, his gym is now crushing it despite the growing worldwide COVID-19 pandemic.

Powell, who won three events in the AGOQ and finished with just 15 points overall, is the owner of Powell Fitness Training and Wellness Studio in Greensboro, N.C. His facility operates as part personal training studio and functional fitness facility that offers group classes, “much like a CrossFit affiliate,” he said.

However, unlike most CrossFit affiliates in the United States at the moment, Powell’s facility is still open because it’s considered an essential service. He has worked hard to achieve this status by working closely with the Dean of the Public Health Department at a local university, as well as his personal MD and his lawyers.

  • “Most of our clients come here because doctors referred them,” he explained, adding that approximately 30 to 40 percent of his clients come in with Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, or with other degenerative chronic diseases, such as arthritis.
Credit: Todd Turner

Being an essential service means his 28 coaches can continue to train their clients as long as essential services are legally allowed to remain open through this pandemic.

Powell assured the Morning Chalk Up that he and his team are taking careful precautions right now, including diligent sanitation. They have also reduced the number of people allowed in the facility at once.

  • “There are only ever three trainers and their clients in the studio at once, so only six people. And it’s a 10,000 square foot facility,” Powell said.

So far, Powell has temporarily lost just two clients because of COVID-19, one of whom is a nurse who works in the hospital and “doesn’t want to chance it,” he said. The other is a 74-year-old retired nurse, who thinks it’s safer for her health if she stays away right now.

  • “I know they’ll both come back once this thing is over,” Powell added.

Over the years, Powell and his team have worked with numerous clients to put their diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and other chronic diseases into remission and have helped them come off their various medications.

  • “I had one couple come in just eight months ago — they’re 55 and 57 — and she’s already off her medication for diabetes, blood pressure and her thyroid, and her husband is off his blood pressure medication for the first time since he was 27,” he said. “It’s amazing to watch people take on this fitness lifestyle and mitigate the effects of these degenerative diseases. I’m really happy to be a part of it.”

Turning more and more fitness facilities into wellness centers that can be considered essential services and can help bridge the gap between the medical community and the gym, is essential for creating a healthier population, Powell said.

  • “It’s paramount. The medical community needs to lobby more and more with the fitness industry, because now more than ever, we are becoming aware of the benefits of conditioning and fitness and its relation to degenerative diseases,” Powell said.

Although Powell admits he was really hoping this year at the CrossFit Games would be his comeback year — he won the Games in 2014, 2015 and 2016, but placed 12th, 3rd and 6th in the last three years — it’s not nearly as important as fighting this pandemic.

  • “If the Games are postponed (or cancelled) for the greater good of society, then I’m OK with that. People’s health and wellness is most important,” Powell said.
Credit: Todd Turner

After all, he doesn’t workout every day just to compete at the CrossFit Games — He does it so he can live a long, healthy life, and inspire others to do the same.

  • “I sell fitness and wellness and high levels of personal productivity, and the best way I can express that is through my own personal fitness, so I will continue to compete. It’s a platform for me to express my fitness, and inspire others to do the same,” he said.

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