Sudbury gym owner muscles through pandemic to find new ways to stay in business
'When the rules change, you adapt, figure it out and keep going'
A Sudbury gym owner says she's doing the best she can to keep her business rolling during the latest pandemic lockdown and all the conflicting messages that have gone with it.
"We have pivoted many times and we've taken all of our operations, all of our classes virtual ... [and] making sure that my clients have equipment," said Michelle Munro from Round Two Fitness.
"I've done a lot of lending, a lot of shipping stuff out and acquiring new equipment to make sure that everybody's set up at home to be able to get their workouts done."
She says her instincts told her that it didn't make sense for weights and kettle bells and other gym equipment to sit and collect dust.
And she says she's not worried the equipment will be gone for good.
"[My clients] are 100 per cent committed to coming back to the gym, and they know that to come back, they need to bring the equipment back," Munro said.
"And they also just keep paying their membership fees in order to be able to continue to use the equipment."
When new clients come along — about one or two a day — she has to get creative until she can order more equipment for them to use.
"For the first little while, [one of my clients] used a bag of potatoes until I was able to get equipment in. Sometimes we put books and weights in in backpacks. It really depends on what the workout is. I can also improvise with things that are readily available, like resistance bands and stuff that's fairly easy to get your hands on. I just provide lots and lots of modifications."
Quitting 'not an option'
While some gyms have closed around her during the pandemic, Munro says she refuses to give up on her work.
"I am first and foremost, a mother of four very hungry children. Calling it quits was definitely not an option. I'm the sole income provider for my household and I could absolutely not close my doors," she said.
"It makes me very sad when I hear about somebody closing. I don't think that this is the way to leave the industry. I can't even imagine having to make that decision. I can't imagine what the owner and what the clients go through when that has to happen. I know how important a gym family is to somebody's mental and physical health."
Munro says she's working hard to increase her gym's online presence and online clientele. But Ontario's rules around the lockdown have left her frustrated.
Many questions, few answers
"It really doesn't make sense to me that it's okay to jump on an airplane and fly to the Caribbean, but it's not OK to work out in a safe, physically distant environment that's super clean," she said.
"And if you think about other industries that are allowed to operate, versus not allowed to operate, why am I allowed to get a massage, where somebody's hands are all over me and not allowed to get a tattoo, which is in an extremely safe and clean environment? So those types of decisions and the fairness of it just really does not make sense at all to me."
Thousands of businesses have closed since the pandemic began, and Munro says Round Two Fitness "does not intend to become one of those statistics."
She says her mindset is to keep her business in a state of "constant evolution," which is a mantra she uses when coaching her clients.
"You can make excuses, or you can figure out a way to make fitness work as part of your daily life. And when the rules change, you adapt, figure it out and keep going."