Once thriving fitness facility shuts down under weight of pandemic, restrictions | Coronavirus

Drina Hoover told herself if she could keep her business operational for five years, it

Drina Hoover told herself if she could keep her business operational for five years, it would be a sign that she has something special on her hands.

As the owner of Weigh Fit Nutrition, 32117 Old Street, in Rockwood, she reached that five-year benchmark with full exercise classes and a healthy number of memberships.

But, along came COVID-19, and the pandemic that has claimed so many businesses throughout the year has added one more to the casualty list.

Hoover said she handed in the keys to the building landlord on Dec. 1, bringing an end to the fitness spot that actually lasted more than six years.

The decision to call it quits was one of the hardest things she said she’s had to do.

According to the owner, “never in a million years” did she think her business would be capsized by a pandemic.

After exhausting her cash flow, not qualifying for business loans and struggling through the governor’s statewide shutdown on gyms, membership dropped significantly.

Hoover fought to keep her loyal members, even allowing about a dozen of them to take her spin bicycles home so they could continue working out.

Some also took home weights.

She taught fitness classes online and outdoors to keep the business going.

It was an extreme effort and a challenge members helped her with along the way.

“I can’t thank some of you members enough for standing by my side through all of this,” she said in a farewell post on the fitness social media page. “You guys are the reason this post is so tough. I will still continue to support you all and help you achieve your health goals any way I possibly can.”

Hoover, who is a working mother, said she couldn’t keep up with notices about someone potentially being exposed to someone who tested positive, and having to pass along to her members.

Ultimately, the owner said many people just didn’t feel comfortable returning to gym facility workouts.

“Some people were afraid, and I don’t blame them,” Hoover said. “Some (business owners) found ways to bend the rules, but I thought that was a slap in the face to health care workers who work out here.”

“This was supposed to be fun,” she said of her business. “But, it was taking from my family.”

Lease payments continued to roll in and when she couldn’t make arrangements because the landlord said he could get someone else to rent the building, the writing was on the wall and the fight was over.

Just prior to handing over the keys to the building, Hoover said she sold as much as she could — the bicycles, weights, balls and all.

Most of her members bought the items for sale.

Hoover is proud of the business operation she built from top to bottom.

She said she made sure she paid back members who were due refunded money.

“I made sure I did everything.”

The pandemic has had an impact not only on Hoover, but also her family. A few of them operate small businesses, including her mother-in-law who owns Flat Rock Lanes, which is not considered an essential business.

Despite the loss, Hoover is grateful for the experience and relationships she built.

“I was brand new to the business and they welcomed me with open arms,” she said. “I’ve met so many friends. I think I changed the lives of a lot of people and they have changed mine. They have become family.”

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