Tom Forsyth, owner of Double Shot Printing LLC, formerly Team Tom Fitness LLC, sits on a resistance ball at the gym inside of the Greeley Mall on May 26. Ali C. M. Watkins/BizWest

Gyms face extra challenges from COVID

Craig Havekost is a masters bodybuilding champion and the owner of Prodigy Gym in Fort Collins, but after he reopened in the wake of the coronavirus, he gave himself another title: janitor.

Gyms, Havekost admited, are hard places to keep clean. People sweat and shower and use chalk and stuff. But now instead of giving training advice, or perhaps in addition to it, Havekost pledged to follow his customers around with a bottle of disinfectant.

“I’m the owner, and I’m willing to do everything it takes to make this work,” Havekost said.

It’s been insane, Havekost said with a grunt, since he opened May 1 under strict guidelines after nearly two months. He was by himself until he secured some government money and hired trainers to work with groups of four under the regulations (with 10 or fewer in the facility). He hoped to be host his regular hours of 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. soon (he might be now as you read this), but he was also contemplating staying open until 1 a.m. or opening at 3 a.m. to help cover the demand for one-hour shifts his customers have to book to work out. Once they do, they need to follow his trainers, with a little independence, both to follow guidelines and so he knows what to clean next.

“They have to be in the same room and work the same body part so I can clean when they are done,” Havekost said.

Havekost admited to some frustration at the way gyms are perceived, even as he did admit they are harder to clean.

“We actually have much more control than any other business,” he said. “We certainly do more than Wal-Mart or Kings Soopers. Fewer than 150 people are coming through my doors every day, and every single thing that gets touched is getting cleaned. You’ve got thousands going into those stores touching everything. I don’t see the logic as to why gyms are so dangerous.”

It’s a confusing world, and some of the major gym corporations in Colorado, including Vasa and Genesis, didn’t want to give specifics, though Genesis did say a reopening plan was on its website, and Vasa didn’t have a plan as of yet (again, though, that could change by the time you read this). That’s why some gym owners just, um, threw in the towel: Tom Forsyth of his Team Tom Gym in the Greeley Mall converted into a T-shirt printing shop now called Double Shot Printing. Team Tom also now operates as a personal training studio. All gyms operated that way as of May 1 until regulations are loosened a bit, but Forsyth doesn’t plan to go back to a full gym operation.

His gym was established in 2011 and found some success, enough to cover free memberships to veterans and law enforcement officers. But it got tougher last year when 24-Hour Fitness opened up across the street from his parking lot and oil and gas workers moved out of town after those prices plummeted. The coronavirus was the last straw.

“I don’t even have a clue as to what running a full on gym would entail with where we are right now,” Forsyth said. “There’s just no way the gym will recover from all that.”

Kaci Drury began leading virtual gym sessions for her clients once COVID shut down her business, Fit4Mom. Drury hires moms to lead workout sessions for other moms and their kids. The virtual sessions over Zoom allowed her clients to see each other and stick to a schedule.

“I know for a lot of us, that’s helping to keep us sane,” Drury said. “We help keep each other motivated and accountable.”

Drury and her other trainers used malls and parks as meeting places before the coronavirus, so it’s possible that she could have continued on as normal (outside of the malls). But Drury didn’t want to take any chances.

“Since we are a business, no one was supposed to be doing anything,” she said. “We are just trying to be cautious. Our moms were more comfortable staying at home. We have some with pregnancies, and we all had kids or little ones.”

Her roster of about 30 clients stayed stable, and Drury charged them all a mid-point fee, as she bases her fees based on how many times they attend per week. She hopes to get back out to the parks in June and use a combination of virtual and live workouts.

“We just want to ease back into things,” Drury said. “I do know we are all really ready to start connecting again.”

Craig Havekost is a masters bodybuilding champion and the owner of Prodigy Gym in Fort Collins, but after he reopened in the wake of the coronavirus, he gave himself another title: janitor.

Gyms, Havekost admited, are hard places to keep clean. People sweat and shower and use chalk and stuff. But now instead of giving training advice, or perhaps in addition to it, Havekost pledged to follow his customers around with a bottle of disinfectant.

“I’m the owner, and I’m willing to do everything it takes to make this work,” Havekost said.

It’s been insane, Havekost said with a grunt, since he opened May 1 under strict guidelines after nearly two months. He was by himself until he secured some government money and hired trainers to work with groups of four under the regulations (with 10 or fewer in the facility). He hoped to be host his regular hours of 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. soon (he might be now as you read this), but he was also contemplating staying open until 1 a.m. or opening at 3 a.m. to help cover the demand for one-hour shifts his customers have to book to work out. Once they do, they need to follow his trainers, with a little independence, both to follow guidelines and so he knows what to clean next.

“They have to be in the same room and work the same body part so I can clean when they are done,” Havekost said.

Havekost admited to some frustration at the way gyms are perceived,…