Published in Small Business
Muskegon-based Waters Edge Fitness has shifted to holding virtual classes or outdoor sessions, including on Pere Marquette Beach. Muskegon-based Waters Edge Fitness has shifted to holding virtual classes or outdoor sessions, including on Pere Marquette Beach. COURTESY PHOTO

Muskegon gym switches to online, outdoor group fitness classes during shutdown

BY Sunday, June 21, 2020 05:11pm

MUSKEGON — The coronavirus pandemic has pushed the owner of the Waters Edge Fitness gym to get creative by offering online resources for members over the past several months that the facility has been shut down.

Waters Edge Fitness’ physical location at 2465 Lakeshore Dr. in Muskegon has been closed since March 16  in accordance with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive orders to limit certain in-person businesses to stop the spread of COVID-19. Despite the temporary closure of the space, co-owner Marrisa Evans has worked alongside gym instructors to engage members throughout quarantine with online classes.

“I was offering free Zoom sessions for people just because I knew others were struggling financially as well,” Evans said. “Some people have been able to support by donating a membership or two, or buying classes ahead of time.”

Even though the gym was not pulling in revenue the past few months, Evans and her husband own the building, so they were not losing much money except to pay for utilities and electric bills at the space. Evans said she contacted every member when the gym shut down, and some people chose to keep automatically renewing or extending their memberships despite the closure.

Another solution for Waters Edge included providing private online workout classes to members during the closure. The online tools also have given people a way to more easily try out a range of classes the gym offers, Evans said, noting that she expects to continue offering them when the gym is able to reopen. 

“Going virtual has really opened some doors for me as far as marketing and reaching out to members,” Evans said. “It’s been fun, and a good learning experience overall.”

Last week, Evans also was able to hold her first outdoor fitness class since the shutdown.

“It was so nice to see the smiles on people’s faces and the laughter,” Evans said. “It was hot but it was a lot of fun.”

Between 20-25 people came to the outdoor drum beats class, Evans said. Waters Edge has held other outdoor high intensity workouts outside its location and on the beach at Pere Marquette Park, located just down the street. 

Stations for the group workout were spaced six feet apart, with other safety measures in place like not sharing equipment for circuit workouts and providing hand sanitizer, Evans said.

Evans is pleased that so many people have taken advantage of online classes during the shutdown, but she misses witnessing friendships forming in the gym and group fitness classes. 

“They’re missing that social interaction,” Evans said. “We see friendships and bonds and we’re not able to do that right now, which is a concern of mine for people’s mental health.”

Evans is guessing gyms will be able to reopen in early July. Waters Edge will follow CDC guidelines and people will be able to work out in masks if they choose to, she said.

“We’re really looking forward to sweating with people in person again,” Evans said. “We’re looking forward in general to people feeling good about themselves and making their he

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