Keith Bense, of St. Peter, hoped to work out March 17 at Live Well Fitness Center at River’s Edge Hospital, but it closed its doors that day at noon, after the governor’s statewide order closed all health and fitness centers.
“It’s too bad it had to close,” Bense said. “I like to try to get up here four of five times a week. (I’ve been doing that) for about six years.”
Bense, a teacher’s aide at St. Peter High School and retired teacher at Le Sueur-Henderson Schools, started working out to lose weight and rehab his knee after surgery. He had his left knee replaced six years ago and the second three years ago. He also stays active by riding his bike, lifting weights, a lot of walking and playing baseball with the St. Peter over 50 team.
His predicament is familiar for many across the region, as gyms and fitness centers are forced to close.
River’s Edge Fitness Center
It was sunny and 44 degrees March 17, which made it a good afternoon for riding a bike. But when it’s bad weather, Bense can’t safely ride his bike outside, and he likes to work out on the stationary bikes in the fitness center. However, he understood the reason for the closing: to limit groups of people as part of efforts to stop the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic virus.
The fitness center at River’s Edge normally is open from 4 a.m. to midnight. In addition, four group exercise classes on arthritis, balance and Parkinson’s disease taught by Live Well Fitness Exercise Physiologist Nicole Boelter have been postponed. Boelter also understands the importance of avoiding the virus, but she emphasized the importance of people staying active for the health benefits.
It’s especially important for older people, who makes up the majority of the members at Live Well Fitness.
“We understand the importance of staying active,” Boelter said. Of course, It’s also especially important for older people who are more at risk of getting sick or dying from the virus to stay safe and healthy at home.
She has designed home exercise ideas as the weeks progress, and she is putting ideas to stay active on the fitness center’s Facebook Page. Boelter also is helping people in her classes to keep moving by emailing videos and written explanations of exercises.
She suggests people use any home exercise equipment they have and get up and walk every 30 minutes.
Live Well Fitness could reopen March 27, but that’s the earliest possible, and it will be closed until further notice, depending on the governor’s directive.
Snap Fitness, Waseca
Snap Fitness center in Waseca had to shut its doors, too.
“Members are disappointed that we closed,” Manager Jarius Volkman said. “It’s for the best to have it in check for the next couple of weeks. More than half of our members are 65 and over. It’s better to be safe than sorry. One person can ruin it for everybody.”
Volmann said they already were having problems with people not following the rules of keeping a safe their distance from each other.
The club also cancelled eight classes including a senior fitness class taught by Volkman, running six days a week with 20 to 30 people. In the meantime, Snap Fitness is offering members an app for free, which includes workout videos on Facebook so they can continue to work out. And, with the weather getting warmer, Volkman said people can exercise outside more by going for a walk or run to stay active and healthy.
Volkman said Snap Fitness is considering reimbursing members for each day they lose in their membership fees.
However, he noted, “For each day it’s closed, we’re losing income.”
It has been a busy time for Volkman, because his wife, Courtney, just had a baby Thursday. They were concerned about possibly getting infected, so they induced their child’s birth. Courtney is a nurse at Mankato Clinic.
“The baby is healthy and my wife has three months off paternity leave, so we’re doing well,” Volkman said.
Cannon Strength, Northfield
Cannon Strength fitness center in Northfield is adapting to the closure. The club allowed members to take home small exercises equipment, such as barbells, weights, medicine balls and exercise bands.
“We opened up the gym Tuesday for members to take equipment home,” owner Donavan Bellcourt said, noting that 10 people took advantage of the opportunity.
The club also is going virtual, offering home workout programs, plus workout videos on Facebook.
“We closed all operations and went to an online presence. In the end, it will be for the better to shut down for a couple of weeks,” Belcourt said.
Belcourt said they have gotten a good response from people in the Northfield community to the online workouts.
“It’s a way to reach the people; we reached more people than before.”
Cannon Strength also offered 10 organized group fitness classes which were cancelled.
“It’s obviously necessary to close,” Belcourt said. “If it doesn’t reopen soon, businesses will have to come up with more creative ways to serve our members. We hope people will come back to the gym and potentially have a surge in business. Fitness centers have to adapt and change up how to serve customers virtually one-on-one and at home. Most people adapt and make do.”
Belcourt said his business will see a drop in income with the current state of the economy, but he added that, “We’re in the middle of a large expansion in a new building with four times the amount of space by April 1,” so the center is looking to the future, regardless.