MISSOULA — The rowing machines are still, the weights are waiting -- and no one is going "all out" on the treads.
As local businesses take a financial beating in the COVID-19 pandemic, they’re digging in, coming up with solutions and depending on "client loyalty” to make it through to the other side.
That includes our local gyms and fitness centers whose owners are working up a different kind of sweat. Alex Burreson’s Orangetheory Missoula facility has been closed since mid-March, and counting. And as for any small business owner, it’s been stressful.
“Extremely stressful, there’s no other way to put it. Scary, I would add that," Burreson said. "We went from having revenue and members and a staff of 18 and arguably a successful business here in town and to then one day deciding to close our doors which meant and all that went away.“
Burreson secured a Paycheck Protection loan through the Small Business Administration's CARES ACT so he could pay his staff at least through mid-June. He’s applying for other coronavirus related relief loans, but there are other bills to pay. And like other small business owners, is having to figure most of this out by himself.
"There’s really no one to talk to and offer guidance through. and the same thing with unemployment," Burreson said. "You can’t get a phone call through unemployment. So really for me, it was talking to my accountant, my two lawyers other business and just this knowledge of just putting it together to figure out what you should do. “
Fitness centers and gyms won’t be able to reopen until phase two of the Montana reopening plan, but even if they get the green light, Orangetheory might not open right away.
“I'm probably going to take the full 24-second shot clock to make that decision because there’s really two things I have to take a look at," Burreson said. "One being the health and safety of our members. What can we do to make sure that’s not impacted but also financially when we go to reopen, are the members going to even want to come in?"
Orangetheory members are a loyal bunch supporting the business with private donations and are also participating in online home workouts from their favorite Orangetheory coaches. That provides another way to stay connected for when this is over.
"We have hundreds of people who are supportive of us and want to see us back in business and want to see us open again," Burreson said. "We know we’re not fighting this alone and that’s a big deal for us."
Burreson is also making a plan for when he can reopen, likely with smaller class sizes and an even more robust cleaning schedule.
He acted early when the Paycheck Protection Program was first offered. There was such demand, the program quickly ran out of money, but Monday, Congress injected another $310 billion in funding for those who missed out in the first round.
The US Small Business Administration's website lists other programs business can look into for help. Click here for more information.