Duluth gyms not able to reopen yet, some go to Superior to work out

Updated: May 21, 2020 07:07 PM

Minnesota gyms were not included on the list of businesses reopening on June 1. Some of the Duluth fitness centers expressed frustration by this, saying there is not enough guidance or clear communication from the state.


"It has been challenging because you have not really had any guidance from the state. You haven't had the state being open to differentiating a smaller boutique facility versus a commercial facility," said Eric Franklin, the owner of XMT-3 Training Studio.

Franklin offers one-on-one fitness training at his studio in downtown Duluth. He said he has seen a 90 percent reduction in income since being closed. He has been offering virtual workouts in the meantime and selling gear online but says it has been tough. He reached out to the state.

"I appealed their decision as far as trying to present the case that this is a 900 square feet facility that only does one-on-one interaction. I don't do small groups, I don't do classes, I only work with one client at a time," said Franklin.

Franklin said he hasn't heard back from them. He said this has been a big financial hit for small businesses like his. He is uncertain on how gyms will function under the new conditions.

"I am concerned about how fitness facilities will be able to function in a post COVID-19 situation. You don't have the space in most places to accommodate six feet of distance and still provide access to equipment for other people so that's going to be a challenge for me as a person who goes to commercial gyms. So one of the things I'm looking for from the state is clear cut guidelines that let us know what exactly is to be in place," said Franklin.

Franklin is staying positive though and appreciates the support from the community. He set up a Gofundme page and has seen donations come in. He said donations will be used to pay about six months’ worth of rent, business insurance, utility payments, as well as rebuild the fund to move the studio to a new location.

Franklin has provided free live workouts to the community via Facebook on Monday and Thursday at 6:30 p.m. and Saturday at 11 a.m.

Beginning June 20, he will start a “Summer Slim-down 2020” program, which is a series of free outdoor workouts offered to the community.

He said he will take whatever steps needed to reopen safely for his clients. 

"The measures that I'm going to take when we open are going to be at the level of comfort that my clients want. If they say, Eric I'd like you to wear a mask, I will certainly wear a mask. If they say they would like to have gloves and have me wear gloves, I will do that," said Franklin.

Anytime Fitness locations in Minnesota remain closed, but Wisconsin locations have reopened. The Superior location has been busy since they reopened on Monday.

"Monday was the best day I've had in two months! Just seeing members come back in the door smiling and thanking us for opening and telling us how much they miss the gym, it means the world," said Lewie Welch, the regional coordinator for Anytime Fitness.

"The first few workouts I've had here was pretty good. I've been doing home workouts and that just weren't cutting it so it feels good to be back," said Dustin Knutson, a member of Anytime Fitness.

Knutson usually goes to the Anytime Fitness in Duluth, but drove to the one in Superior to get his workout in.

Anytime Fitness has taken steps to keep the facility safe for members. They hope to reopen the Duluth locations soon.

"We have an online scheduling system now where people can go online and tell us what time they want to come in. That helps us keep track of how many people are going to be in the gym," said Welch.

They're also doing things like blocking off every other piece of equipment, and tons of sanitizing and cleaning.

"We bumped up our cleaning staff. We have people come throughout the day and make sure everything is wiped down. We made this as safe as possible for all members and are confident we are providing that for them here in Wisconsin," said Welch.

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