Working out at a gym for many is a way to relieve stress, but it is also a place where people can gain a sense of camaraderie over a shared passion.
So, when Five Points Fitness in Northern California had to shut its doors due to COVID-19, the community rallied behind it to help it get through the challenging times. Many chose to leave their membership active and buy gift certificates for future use, while the landlords of its two facilities cut the rent in half.
“It felt really good to have the support,” says Bryan LeFebure, co-owner of Five Points Fitness.
Despite the outpouring from the community, Five Points Fitness needed to adapt to make it through the pandemic. It decided to go online, and members followed.
Right away, the instructions learned about what it took to teach virtual fitness classes. While supportive, Bryan wasn’t sure it was going to work. Were people going to sign up for these classes with all the competition out there from fitness instructors on YouTube, exercise apps and streaming services, he wondered. But that is exactly what they did. “I was shocked that people really wanted to see their own instructor — that surprised me,” he says.
Once systems were in place, “We’d send out our weekly schedule on Sunday, providing a taste of everything we taught in the gym,” says Bryan.
By quickly pivoting to online classes, Five Point Fitness was able to keep people on its payroll but that wasn’t going to last forever.
When Bryan heard about the Payment Protection Plan, or PPP, it sounded like a great solution, as it not only helped his company get through this trying time, but it could also be forgiven. So, he turned to his bank for assistance.
“We are big Wells Fargo people. We have been with them for a lot of years, done a lot of loans with them and always paid them off early, so have really good credit ratings,” says Bryan. “We figured the PPP should be pretty easy to get.”
But it soon became apparent that Wells Fargo was bogged down with applicants and its funds dried up quickly.
After hearing about Lendio through the media, he decided to try and get his PPP through the small business loan marketplace.
“Lendio was a whole different experience; it was so quick and so smooth,” says Bryan. “It was very clear and easy for me to download the proper documents; I got good feedback and responses, and within 24 hours I got confirmation that they received my documents.”
This helped Bryan and co-owner Tom MacDonald keep their team on payroll. “I felt good about it. We are doing what we can, and that is all we can do, Bryan says. “As long as we are not being lazy, we are not laying off people when we shouldn’t be, or doing things we wouldn’t feel good about, we are fine.”
As some gyms across the country are beginning to open up, Bryan is learning best practices for when Five Points Fitness can once again open up its doors.
“We are affiliated with different fitness associations, and there is a huge group of gym business owners who put on a webinar once a week, he says. “We are hearing from their experiences and getting guidance on what to do.”
Once opened, Bryan says Five Point Fitness will require people to wear masks inside its facilities (though on cardio machines, it can be pulled down), only allow people to be in one spot of the gym at a time, and will have UVC lights to clean large areas in under 30 minutes.
“We ultimately care about our members staying healthy and making it through this time,” he says.