BE Fit is back
When Mavis Holmseth walked into BE Fit on the first of the new year, she anticipated yet another quiet and familiar workout.
Sometimes a Main Street afterthought in Blue Earth because of its unconventional hours, the downtown women’s gym was Holmseth’s go-to exercise spot, a facility to which she and as many as 15 other members could access on a 24/7 come-as-you-please basis.
What Holmseth did not anticipate was finding a note from Nancy Smith, the head of the fitness center.
A note that said BE Fit was going to be closing.
Smith had only operated the gym for about a year after the 107 N. Main St. storefront sat unoccupied following a stint as a used clothing shop. But for Holmseth, who appreciated the privacy of BE Fit’s quaint setting and, like fellow members, leaned on the facility’s exercise circuit to stay in shape, the prospect of the little women’s health club shutting down was quite disconcerting.
“I’d been coming here,” Holmseth says, “and I didn’t want to quit. I didn’t want it to be closed.”
Now, a month later, the local workout warrior, a champion especially for retirees who want to stay active, reflects on the day she stumbled upon Smith’s note. And she realizes that, at the time, she surely also did not anticipate that by Feb. 1, BE Fit would belong to her.
Talk about an expedited turnaround.
Even Holmseth says the rapid makeover, which makes her a business owner for the first time in her life and has BE Fit open and sporting a retouched look, still has her in a “whirlwind.” But it also did not take long for Holmseth to pounce on an opportunity to keep a staple of women’s fitness, even one that may have been overlooked in recent months, up and running in the community.
“I texted Michele (Stindtman), my daughter, and told her we better take it over,” Holmseth recalls, noting that her commitment to the gym pushed her to take its future into her own hands. “She had just left for the Dominican Republic for vacation, and she said, ‘Don’t let them sell the machines until we get back.'”
By the last week of January, those machines, the rows of exercise equipment that once adorned a Curves Fitness center in town and then powered BE Fit’s self-guided circuit training, belonged to them. Purchasing all the contents of the facility, adding some workout pieces of their own and then redecorating the place with everything from wall-mounted weights to fresh coats of paint, the mother-daughter duo quickly became Main Street’s newest pair of store owners. All in no more than a few weeks’ time.
The process was a hurried one, Stindtman admits, and it is not going to pull her away from her full-time responsibilities with Faribault County’s Soil & Water Conservation District. But it was also a relatively seamless transition to the downtown business world and, more importantly, a sudden dream realized for an advocate of personal and local women’s fitness.
“I looked at it as something for her (Mavis), but really, it’s something we need for many women my mom’s age,” Stindtman says. “We want to provide a nice, comfortable place where they can go to work out.”
To kick off her ownership, Holmseth plans to make herself available in the actual storefront, where she and Stindtman have already unveiled freshly embroidered BE Fit jackets. Access to the gym, however, will remain as it was, with keys distributed to members for use any time of the day. Registration, covered by some insurance but otherwise $35 a month, remains open to women of all ages. And, as Holmseth says, it ensures the benefit of staying fit in an environment that specializes in privacy.
“A lot of women want their own space,” she says. “They don’t necessarily want to work out in front of all kinds of people or wait to get on machines.”
The older crowd, of course, is not the only target audience of the rejuvenated BE Fit, and not only because Stindtman knows that one of the keys to lasting long-term and spreading awareness many locals, she admits, have responded to mentions of the gym with, “Where’s that?” is attracting new clientele.
“We need more members,” she says. “But we want to find out what they want, too. What do they want to do while they’re here over their lunch hour? We’re targeting that 30- to 35- to 50-year-old range.”
Some general decluttering and a restocked supply of exercise equipment should help.
On top of spicing up the walls and windows that surround BE Fit’s signature circuit of machines, which features everything from leg lifts to upper-body strengtheners, Holmseth and Stindtman added multiple sets of free weights, a collection of exercise balls and freed up space for a new stretching room. Plans of pairing a new elliptical and bike machine with an existing treadmill have been floated, and monthly workout classes could eventually be on the agenda at the ladies’ refurbished gym as well.
One certified trainer, in fact, is already lined up for Feb. 18, an unofficial BE Fit open house that will feature a fitness presentation by Blue Earth Area’s Elizabeth Stallman. Since Holmseth and Stindtman’s takeover came rather quickly and quietly, with current members notified of the ownership change through letters, the presentation figures to serve as part of the workout studio’s soft reopening. And, if all goes according to plan, sparks a renewed interest in a gym engineered for comfort and geared toward women.
“We’re not in it to make money,” says Stindtman. “We see the need for people my mom’s age and women in general to have an opportunity to get out and exercise.”
Others do, too, apparently. Four people, including two newcomers, had registered on the first day of the revived operation. And with prospective members all across the board, some close in age to Stindtman, others younger and some even competing with the gym’s elder stateswoman, an 83-year-old regular, more could be on the way.
It is a good thing Mavis Holmseth made her way into BE Fit just a month earlier.