Wednesday was a big day for Nathan Jespersen. Not only was he able to open his five Anytime Fitness locations, he also was able to open the inside of his ax-throwing bar in Stillwater.
“That’s a big deal for us,” Jespersen said.
He opened his gyms, which are mostly in the east metro, early around 4:30 am. The Life Time fitness club in Edina had a steady stream as it opened this morning and had state officials on hand to check out how a 400-page reopening manual translates into business.
Wednesday was the first day that fitness centers, bowling alleys and some other activities could reopen in Minnesota if they followed social distancing and other restrictions.
At the Anytime Fitness in Cottage Grove, there were about a dozen people exercising in the facility at one time, which is busy for an Anytime Fitness, Jespersen said.
“I think the gym is a place for people to connect,” he said. “It’s not just about fitness.”
His bar the Lumberjack had only been open about three months before Jespersen and his wife had to close it due to the threat of the coronavirus. Last week, they were able to open an outdoor ax-throwing pit. Wednesday they will be able to reopen the inside, but only half the lanes will be used.
At the Life Time fitness facility at the Southdale Center in Edina, the members there were eager to exercise. Members were spaced out on treadmills and other machines. Workers in masks were seen spraying weights and training mats with disinfectant. Signs on walls, machines and the floor directed people to social distance.
Steve Grove, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, and state’s Chief Information Officer Tarek Tomes visited the facility Wednesday morning to inspect how the fitness center was working to safely reopen.
Life Time founder Bahram Akradi said he was happy with his company’s preparations, which were detailed in the 400-page operational manual.
“Why you come to Life Time is because of the collective experience you have with these people,” Akradi said, as he sat in the Edina facility’s cafe.
Akradi said he and his team of employees were thrilled to be open.
“Sectors like ours got hurt the most,” he said. “We were shut down the longest. … Despite the losses we had to take, I am not shaken.”
Members were lined up at all of the 23 Life Time locations Wednesday morning before their 5 a.m. opening, a Life Time spokeswoman said.
Kelly Lukanen of Eden Prairie was glad to be back at the Life Time Edina center Wednesday. She had started working with a trainer and cardio coach to help her lose weight and had made a lot of progress in a 60-day weight loss challenge at the gym before it was forced to shut in March.
“It was a disaster,” she said. “I gained it all back.”
She said she thought Life Time had taken the right steps to reassure members of the facility’s safety.
“It’s good to be back.”