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New Gym Owners Offer Perspective About Opening a Gym During a Pandemic

Jul 24, 2020 by

While one of the big stories in recent months has focused on gyms closing their doors for good, there’s another group of people who have opened new gyms in the middle of the ongoing global pandemic.

These are just a few of them:

  • Karen Herring opened The Colony CrossFit in Colony, Texas on June 1.
  • Candy Adamek and Hannah Metheny opened the doors to CrossFit Ridgeback in Commerce City, CO on June 25.
  • Brady DeClerk opened his second gym, Omnis North in Little Rock, AR, on June 1st. He also owns Omnis West, in Little Rock.
  • Daphne Oudshoorn and Mike Breuker opened CrossFit Siargao in Surigao Del Norte, Philippines on July 19.
  • Phillip Carroll officially opened CrossFit Phillipsdale in Rumford, RI on March 1, and was only open for two weeks before shutting his doors. He re-opened on June 1.
  • Similarly, Abi Ann Reiland’s gym CrossFit 8035 West in Grimes, Iowa was open for just two weeks before she had to close in March. She reopened on May 15.

The Challenges: From financial to logistical, new  gyms have faced even bigger challenges than existing gyms, as they didn’t yet have an existing loyal client base to support their costs.

  • DeClerk had pre-sold memberships assuming he would have opened in March. With his other gym, he rented out equipment and did Zoom classes like many others, “but with the new place, we didn’t know these (pre-sold) members yet and there was not that good CrossFit vibe to carry us through a couple of months,” DeClerk said.
  • Carroll had to pay his full rent for three months without a client base to help him cover the costs before he was able to open, and when he applied for an economic disaster loan, he didn’t qualify as approval was determined by the business’s past revenue, of which he didn’t have any.
  • Herring also found herself paying rent without a client base, but luckily “I only paid a portion of the rent until I opened,” she said.

The Small Wins: Though they admit they have experienced financial and logistical challenges and stresses, Adamek and Metheny, who are also both members of the military, are focusing on the smaller wins they have experienced, all the while maintaining their sense of humor.

  • “If you start seeing a lemonade stand hosted by a Colorado CrossFit gym, it’s probably us,” Adamek joked.
Credit: CrossFit Ridgeback

For starters, keeping classes small as per COVID-19 regulations, all the while servicing all of their members, has been easy, they explained.

  • “We didn’t have to spread the bad news about restricting how often you can come to the gym each week across 300 athletes,” said Adamek, who has been offering classes of nine or less.
  • “We have a brand new space, which plays to our benefit. We’re new, our equipment is new and clean, and we don’t have swarms of people in class, so we can provide the comfort and support people need right now,” said Metheny.
Credit: CrossFit Ridgeback

Further, they have saved money by purchasing some of their equipment from other gyms who had to close during COVID, and they recently discovered they’re eligible for a grant given to small businesses who have incurred additional pandemic-related costs. While the grant is just likely to cover “our many Home Depot receipts,” it’s still helpful, they said.

The Big Picture: Despite the hard times, these new gym owners are optimistic about the future and are prepared to do the hard work because they believe in what they’re doing.

  • “There are opportunities out there for sure. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the unpredictability of it all, so holding on to the small wins has been uplifting,” said Adamek, who has remained committed to reaching their goal of 80 clients in eight months.
  • “I have a 62-year-old woman client who was very worried about going out in public because she’s dealing with all these underlying health conditions, but now she trusts me and feels safe and confident knowing she’s doing the right thing for her health. Something like this can bring the world to its knees, but giving more people an opportunity to get into the gym and stay active is going to be beneficial across the board. That’s why I got into this,” Carroll said.
  • “The pandemic has been unlucky timing, but I know I can still make it work,” Herring said.
  • DeClerk added: “(People) are pumped to get started with something new…We have now been open for less than two months and have 50 sign-ups and that is all just word of mouth. I think coming into a new fitness routine at this time is giving people just what they need.”


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