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Perspective from a Gym Owner During COVID-19

They say life comes at you fast – and wow has that been true over the past 10 days. Flash back two Fridays from today, and we knew there was going to be a shift. Our team was getting ready to support smaller classes, individual training, and perhaps a movement of class schedule. We already clean our gym like crazy but we had ramped that up as well. Finally, we were making contingency plans should the absolute worst case scenario with COVID-19 happen.

News flash: the worst case scenario happened.

So now I’m writing from my home instead of from the box, and I thought that amidst all the blogs and videos about home workouts and how to stay on track with your nutrition while at home some perspective about what it has been like for our team would be, frankly, a more entertaining piece than yet another invitation to eat salad instead of chips for lunch.

Our community is so incredible

I do not have words to communicate how much love and support I feel from our members during this time. As we have been forced to move everything online and into our private Facebook group, we entered territory we’ve never been in before. Summit is a physical location because we never wanted to only interact online. People come to our gym to have amazing results, look better, feel better, and gain confidence – but also to see their friends. In all transparency, we weren’t sure what would happen when the not seeing their friends part went away. Here’s what happened:

  • Everyone jumped into the Facebook group and created an incredibly active community right away
  • Tons of personal messages to Jason and me asking how we are doing – zero selfishness here
  • Ideas and concepts to continue to bring our community together even though we’re all isolated at home

In the first 24 hours most of the initial fear started to wear off. This is still extremely stressful – and will continue to be so throughout the time our physical location is closed – but at least I know we have a truly tight-knit community at Summit that has our back.

The box feels like home, so this feels like an extended, bad vacation

Ever been trapped at the airport because of missing your flight? That is somewhat similar to how this feels right now. For the past four years and one week (we got shut down by the government exactly one week after our four year anniversary as a box) Summit has been my home. I don’t say my second home, but my home, because I spend more time there than anywhere else in my life. Sure, I sleep at a house, but for my waking hours more of them are spent at Summit than any single place else. So it is intensely strange not being there every day.

Even in down times, there is great opportunity

Entrepreneurship is a roller coaster of manic and depressive behavior. Your job as an entrepreneur is to try and steady that wave. You don’t want to get too high, and you definitely don’t want to get too low. COVID-19 and the economic shutdown is certainly a time where it is easy to get too low. The cure for this is to look for the brightness in the dark and focus there intently.

For example, on any given week our team may have 10-20 ideas for improving our gym. But we all spend so much time coaching and interacting with members, that these ideas are often times not able to be implemented, and then they fall by the wayside. We’re still working, but there simply isn’t as much to do – no retail to manage, no facility to clean, just to name a couple of things – so we can really work on implementing some of those ideas. Among them?

  • Technology integrations into our physical space to improve member experience
  • Updates to the website to better serve our community
  • Community engagement initiatives to give back when all of this is over

Plus many more that I could go on for quite awhile about. The point is this: there is downtime for nearly everyone. Work is quieter. Life is slower. You have at least an extra hour from not having a commute. How are you using that extra time? Here are a couple of the things I’ve done to use the extra hour:

  • Read more (Daring Greatly, Pitch Anything, up next is Profit First)
  • Started a gratitude practice
  • Started a meditation practice as part of a morning routine

Compassion for yourself and how you’re coping with this matters

Your body does not process stress from workouts, relationships, or career differently. Stress is stress is stress – and too much of it causes issues for your short and long term health.

When you move your entire work remote, lose physical interaction with your friends, have your gym shut down, and also potentially take on teaching your kids, that is a lot of stress at one time. It’s important to take time to allow yourself to process all that is happening. Give yourself grace.

At my house, we’ve taken our mornings just a little bit slower. We’ve taken our dog for a longer walk a few mornings. Worked out later in the day. Spent time together over coffee. Things that wouldn’t normally happen are happening now, because, well, life isn’t normal right now.

All in all, I’m feeling strangely grateful

It is weird to say this, but in some strange way this entire Coronavirus pandemic has made me much, much more thankful for all that I have in my life. I don’t get to see my friends. I don’t get to go to my gym. I don’t get to see my officemates. I don’t get to watch sports. But, that’s made all the day-to-day moments of life so much more magical.

Just think of how intensely we will connect with our friends once we can again. How much you’ll enjoy the sounds of a sports stadium. How delicious and exciting your first meal back at your favorite restaurant will be. How much you’ll appreciate the barista at the coffee shop. It is all of these little moments we take for granted or poke holes in that we’ll no longer miss. I’m the worst at this, “Oh that was good, but just imagine if it was like this!” That won’t be happening anymore. Living in the present, being thankful for what we have, who surrounds us, and the little moments which have been forgotten in our world of prosperity and abundance simply will never be looked at the same. And for that, I’m mostly just grateful.

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