Gym owner: ‘This is literally life and death, so we don’t want to cut any corners.’

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.

All interviews are conducted over the phone, and conversations are edited for length and clarity.

Jen Wilson, co-owner, True Grit Society gym

We saw a post online where a gym said they were opening June 10, and we were like, “How are we the last ones to know about anything?” Last we knew, Phase 1 was June 1 with restaurants, and we knew gyms were Phase 3. Then we were watching [Gov. Tim] Walz going, “What happened to Phase 2?” We were so confused. I feel like Walz and the people giving information have been pretty clear on the main points. I was a little shocked that it just happened. It felt like we missed something. 

It’s great news but there’s a lot that goes around that.  We still don’t have a front door. We really felt caught off guard and didn’t think we’d be ready to go by June 10. We hadn’t started checking in with our instructors. It was a lot of running around and a very stressful lead up. 

Some people are excited to get back to it. I think there’s a general trust that some people have your best interest in mind, and we have that trust with a lot of our members. But we had a very small percentage of people reactivate. For us, it’s a bit of a mixed bag, because we still owe people about two weeks of membership fees from March when we had to close down in the middle of the month. So we’re running classes but not collecting dues while we’re paying that out. 

We also don’t charge for canceled classes, which a lot of people do, so because we have limited space in a class, we have to police it a lot more. We’re a mom-and-pop business, literally, so the amount of cleaning that falls on our shoulders means we can’t run back-to-back classes anymore. 

We’ve had some people come back. We’ve also had some people say even with nine people in 3,000 square feet, they don’t know how comfortable they are. We’ve talked to everybody to make sure they feel safe and are protected and we have enough moving air. One thing that’s different for us is we have three different rooms. We haven’t opened the other two rooms yet simply because we want to make sure it’s safe. This is literally life and death, so we don’t want to cut any corners. It’s stressful, just to be sure we’re doing the right thing. 

There’s a lot of stuff we’re doing on the back end. We’ve got no help financially for any program — we don’t qualify for anything. It’s almost a joke now that we don’t. I’m flabbergasted that we haven’t been able to receive any help. Honestly it feels right now like we’re just rolling with the punches. Marcus is injured; we found out he has a meniscus tear and might need surgery. You know, I feel blessed everyday to be alive and safe and have a business but at the same time, it’s tough, man. It’s a good thing we’re so stubborn.


VOICES FROM THE PANDEMIC

 You can read all of the stories here.