Gym owner: ‘It took forever to cut through all that red tape and we didn’t get anywhere’

Jen and Marcus Wilson are opening True Grit Society
Jen and Marcus Wilson

The Southwest Journal is documenting the coronavirus pandemic by recording the personal stories of Minneapolis residents and workers whose daily lives are in a state of flux. As the outbreak evolves, we will be checking in with the participants regularly. Read all of the stories here.

Interviews are edited for length and clarity.

Jen Wilson, co-owner, True Grit Society gym

It’s easy to find information, but it’s not easy to find anyone who can elaborate on that information. 

The loans are the toilet paper of the information. Our banker at Wells Fargo told us the applications [for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), part of the federal coronavirus relief act] should be up Friday night. I literally sat online Friday until 1 a.m. waiting for the application to become available. It became available at 8:15 a.m. Saturday, and I filled it out. It turns out we don’t qualify. We pay more in rent than in paychecks. We don’t qualify for the state loans either. We don’t have three months of projected income because we didn’t make any money last year. 

I was bummed out yesterday because it took forever to cut through all that red tape and we didn’t get anywhere. We could take out a loan, but we don’t want to. It’s such a Catch-22. I try to be present and available and understand my emotions. It’s been overwhelming this week. I don’t feel victimized. I’m just frustrated. 

I had put the PPP up there as our saving grace and then it wasn’t. I did apply for the SBA [Small Business Administration] disaster loan. They’ve streamlined the process. Our landlord did slash rent 30% for six months. But we are not the type of people who will not pay our rent. Patience has never been my virtue. It can be very overwhelming to try to figure all this out.

Our daughter just had her fifth birthday. This year we overcompensated with really huge presents. She got a Barbie house; we had to get it shipped. Our instructors and a friend asked how they could make it special. Members and instructors came to the gym parking lot and sang happy birthday to her while standing 6 feet apart. They wrote signs out of pizza boxes. She was so happy. She said it was her best birthday ever. She’s only had five. 

We check in with our members on an almost daily basis, just to see how they’re doing. When you have a consistent routine and you don’t have that routine anymore, it’s hard. It can start to affect someone’s mental health. We’re at this stage now where we’re in it. Things are getting real. People are really starting to get cabin fever. We do a talk every Friday with our mental health coach. This week they’re talking about nutrition and how to feel grounded.


VOICES FROM THE PANDEMIC

 You can read all of the stories here.