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Posted: October 31, 2020

Taking extra precautions in an unprecedented time

By Erin Knutson

The local Curves fitness centre team has stayed empowered and kept its mandate to offer women a healthier lifestyle while uplifting them following the arrival of an unprecedented year.

Curves manager Kim Roelofs (left) and owner Cyndi Weltz at their location in Cranbrook post-pandemic closures. Photo credit: Erin Knutson

According to Cranbrook Curves owner Cyndi Weltz and manager Kim Roelofs, mental fitness is just as important as physical health.

“Staying active is the best defence for mental-health,” said Weltz.

The pandemic was an unforeseen event for many businesses, leaving owners and entrepreneurs walking a tightrope and staring off into the abyss of the unknown.

The impact felt around the world rippled into Cranbrook as the community struggled to keep up with COVID-19.

Doors closed as the public wondered how they would cope with the disappearance of life as they knew it.

Fitness centres were no exception.

The Curves team was deeply concerned about members’ well-being after shutting down their facility to the public in March.

“It was a very challenging time, and it has taken its toll. Customers were understanding, but it was stressful, and everything was day to day,” said the franchise owner.

Left with no guidelines and very little preparation, Weltz and Roelofs reached out to members to offer support, including extending memberships as they altered daily operations to accommodate the crisis.

Weltz, who also works as a home and community care nurse, was adamant about her clients’ safety.

There has been a lot of uncertainty in the health care community, according to the wellness and fitness expert.

“We are very fortunate to live in an area that has less population,” she said of mitigating repercussions that other communities have faced over 2020.

Extensive planning came into play.

Moving forward and remaining a viable entity was a daunting prospect for the Curves team as crisis protocol and information fluctuated daily.

“It was trying to plan without knowing the end result,” said Weltz of the uncertainty of the situation.

Setting out into the unknown with a diminished staff, they rolled out the digital carpet to sustain clients in the interim and cleaned house during the two months of lockdown.

“Facebook Live, email and a YouTube link during open hours was a way to keep content moving. There were a lot of phone calls as we continued to offer assistance to our clients, and there was a lot of cleaning,” said Roelofs of the early days.

Like many other businesses, technology became a lifeline, especially in the fitness industry where live classes, online coaching, and support have become the norm.

Losing clients became an eventuality with a broad senior demographic living on a reduced income and limited access to online resources and Apps to connect to fitness programs in non-traditional ways.

Clients who lost the consistency of their routine and the accountability provided in-house also dropped off, according to the powerhouse team.

Even with the re-opening and fastidious hygiene routines at Curves, there is still the fear of contracting the virus in a gym setting. As a precaution, Weltz and Roelofs have taken extra care to ensure that WCB standards are firmly in place.

“We clean the equipment after every workout, have hand sanitizers in place, and clean the washroom and shower facility after every use,” said the owner.

Curves has seen a quarter of their clientele disappear over the months, but they have retained most of their business and are striving for growth despite setbacks.

The spirit remains high at the female-only establishment. In line with their upbeat, inclusive, and living your best life philosophy, the #CurvesStrong movement to combat COVID-19 arose.

Members in their 60s and 70s have resumed workouts, which is indicative of the strength of the community and their commitment to the 30-minute total body workout offered on Curves’ strength training machines.

“Our facility was already COVID ready,” said Weltz of the spacing and placement of stations and equipment in the facility, giving them a leg up for re-opening.

Individuals, groups travelling together from the same social bubble, and mother and daughter teams have integrated into the new routine at Curves. All sessions are by appointment only and must be pre-scheduled and slotted into designated times.

“It’s sad because it’s a social environment where ladies talk and can enjoy themselves – it’s a real community, and now we have to usher them out,” said Weltz.

Part of the experience at Curves was the physical contact during coaching, including hugs, which is now missing due to restrictions. As a coach, Roelofs acknowledged that it was a difficult transition.

Still, with new supports and strategies in place, including Zumba web-based workouts, Curves remains a contender for keeping women fit, happy, and healthy.

“We’re survivors – we have great members and a great staff who have gone above and beyond,” said Weltz.

Lead image: Kim Roelofs gives a live workout for Curves members on May 8. Photo credit: Facebook Live/Cranbrook Curves

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