Gym owner: ‘We’re all just staying afloat’

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

It’s been a steady pace. We’re doing the same thing. Everybody knows there are risks and it’s a matter of what risks people are willing to take. 

I was listening to a talk Dr. Michael Osterholm from the U of M did on NPR, and it was all about risk. Anytime you go anywhere you’re putting yourself at risk. I think with numbers going up and there’s still not really any control, people are worried. We’ve lost people at the gym who have said, “Thank you for making this safe and we mostly feel safe coming in, but we do see the numbers going up and I don’t want to take that risk anymore.”

I don’t want to make it seem like it’s all bad running a business right now, but it’s not great. I would say most businesses right now are not making a profit. We’re all just staying afloat, making ends meet. I don’t want anyone to thank us, but this is really a labor of love right now. We’re doing this because we love what we do and care about people. People who are coming in have thanked us for being open and creating a safe environment. We’re not really getting ahead, we’re just making ends meet to run the business right now. 

The content Marcus is putting together for us on social media is really important because we need people to see that we’re still trying to run our day-to-day and putting together workouts outside and making it safe. Something that’s coming up really soon is: What is going to happen to these gyms in winter when we can’t be outside anymore?

What scared me from that Osterholm interview is when he said that for herd immunity to start it needs to be an infection rate of like 60%-70% and we’re at like 5% right now. With so much talk about all the people that have had it, I thought it was higher. For any herd immunity, so many more people would need to get it, and that’s very scary to think about what that looks like. 

People are being cautious, especially in the gym. There’s this list of “top 10 places not to go” spreading around Facebook, and gyms are No. 2. But there’s no real infection rate data from gyms data right now. I haven’t heard of people being infected at gyms yet. We’re trying to spread people out and do our best to make a safe environment. I think people don’t know what to believe but they believe some of what they hear, and they don’t want to go anywhere on the  top 5 list. So we have seen a slight drop. 

There is no way to gauge what’s going to happen. It’s just so hard to say. Really right now we are just on our surfboard riding it out and hoping there’s no shark in the water. 

Things have gotten a little busier for us, now that we’re running the business on a limited budget. Between the two of us, one of us is teaching classes once a day and we’re doing a lot of cleaning. We try to carve little family moments. This weekend we got up early and went on a bike ride to Lake Harriet. 


 You can read all of the stories here.