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As pandemic hits gyms hard, local fitness club Body Renew downsizes to one location

Published: Jan. 24, 2021 at 6:13 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Along with restaurants and local retailers, gyms have also struggled to survive the pandemic amid fear of spread and surges of restrictions. Feeling the effects of the pandemic since the beginning, local fitness club Body Renew is downsizing to one location.

Brian Horschel, owner of Body Renew Alaska, said it was a tough decision to shut down the East Anchorage location, but seems like the only option to keep his business running.

“All our clubs, when we had to shut down, saw a reduction in revenue about 50% and we are at about 50% membership of what we were,” said Horschel.

While memberships decreased, the bills mounted. Horschel said he’s had to increase membership fees and put some of the East Anchorage equipment up for sale to recoup some costs.

“In August, we increased all memberships by eight dollars a month to help with just the supplies,” said Horschel. “The amount of cleaning supplies and increased staffing for cleaning both have increased costs.”

With the closing of the Midtown location earlier last year, and now the decision to close the East Anchorage location, the fitness club will only operate out of its South Anchorage location on Old Seward Highway.

“South is where we started,” Horschel said. “We started out of a 3,000 square foot facility in 2007 in that area and it matured. That’s actually our third location on Old Seward, so we went from 3,000 to 18,000 square feet, and now we’re up to 25,000 square feet and owning our own building. Owning our own building helps a lot in keeping costs down and being able to weather the storm here.”

Horschel did say that one positive aspect of the situation is that he’s able to downsize without laying anyone off. “It means a lot because it’s not just those 10 to 15 employees that we had at [the East Anchorage Location], it’s 10 to 15 families. There’s people at home relying on that person and that income,” he said.

As we begin to see the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel, Horschel is hopeful for the future.

“We’re not going anywhere,” said Horschel. “Our business, the projections, everything else. We’ve worked five year projections and Body Renew is definitely in a place that it’s going to survive the pandemic as long as it doesn’t get worse. As long as we can keep taking our baby steps forward, we’re going to be fine.”

The East Anchorage location will remain open until February 15. Current members will be given several options for membership at the South Anchorage location.

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