We want to send out a huge THANK YOU and KUDOS to Senator Katie Fry Hester and her team from District 9!!!
Just after celebrating our 10-year anniversary of opening the doors Arenal Fitness, a personal training gym and CrossFit affiliate in northwest Baltimore, we were crushed by COVID-19. In the last 2 weeks, we have had to recreate our gym 3 times based on the constantly moving target of COVID-19 and the mandates of social distancing and physical closures.
We have done our best to learn the in’s and out’s of various loan, grant and insurance programs just to try to save our mom-and-pop shop business. As like many other small gym owners around the world, we are stepping into a foreign world. How many hours have we spent reading every link, every PDF, and every website that has been sent to us or posted online to help save our small business?
Coincidentally while on a personal group text thread made up of 14 people (one of which was Senator Hester) we were bantering about the stress level, reading 56 pages of the CARES Act, the new rules in place, how they would affect our social group interactions… Katie chimed in and said, “LMK if I can answer any questions.”
In less than 24 hours, we wrote up a bunch of questions trying to clarify whether or not we were on the right path trying to take advantage of all of the relief benefits out there to save our gym. Katie not only answered each question and topic, she sent links to the needed information and connected us to people like Darren Peyton at the Small Business Development Center, and Roger Venezia at the Maryland Department of Commerce who both directly responded to our questions all by 2pm the next day.
Thanks to Katie and her team along with Darren and Roger, we now can sleep better tonight to know that nothing is falling through the cracks and we have all our ducks in a row to tackle the COVID-19 path that lies ahead of us.
Now I’m back to working on fitness, and I wanted to share some words of advice from one small – gym owner to any other looking to save their business:
To secure financial stability:
- Contact your regional SBDC for help: https://www.marylandsbdc.org/locations
- Apply for one of the SBA loans – which convert to grants. Contact an SBA bank lender http://www.hceda.org/wp-content/uploads/SBA-Lender-Contacts-in-MD.pdf
- Help your 1099 “employees” and monthly facility rental contractors get on unemployment insurance: http://www.labor.maryland.gov/employment/unemployment.shtml
- If you have unanswered questions email: [email protected].
To support and motivate your clients:
1. Get on a direct virtual platform ASAP for your group classes or personal training sessions – Zoom, FaceTime, What’s App, Google Hangout, etc… Keep people healthy especially during this time of sickness even if you have to create a Play-Now-Pay-Later plan.
2. Take a virtual tour through your member’s/client’s house so they can see how to turn their house from rooms of furniture to rooms filled with exercise equipment.
3. Contact your members directly just to check in, see how they are doing, and offer your assistance. Be a virtual shoulder to lean on or an ear to bend. There is more to fitness than actually working out. It’s all about the relationships!
4. Go through your biller’s and ask what type of COVID-19 programs they offer to help defer payments for both your business and personal finances.
5. Create daily structure for yourself, some items might only take 15 minutes :
- schedule time to work on engaging in your existing business
- schedule a time for your own workout, meditation, or another carefree activity that disconnects you from the world and calms you down
- schedule time to work on the government relief packages and daily updated information available
- schedule family or social time with friends
- while easier said than done, get the much needed sleep your body and brain needs to rejuvenate for the next day’s events
Be safe and stay strong!
@marylandbiz @MarylandSBTDC @katiefryhesterMD9