TUPELO • For seven weeks, Phil Poe has missed his beloved treadmill.

But on Monday, the 75-year-old was back on this favorite piece of equipment at Premiere Athletix, where he goes at least three times a week.

“It’s really helped me, and being away from it makes you stiff and all stove up,” he said. “I really missed it. I was calling them every week asking when they’d open back up.”

Premier Fitness, like gyms and fitness centers across the state, was allowed to reopen Monday after weeks of being closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

While owners Chris and Kristi Beckish had to endure closing the business, comprised of Premiere Athletix, Premiere Lady and Premiere Tan, they did manage to keep busy.

“It has been the longest seven weeks of our lives,” Chris said. “But what we have been doing is actually doing some projects around here.”

That included putting in new flooring with new paint and seal and adding baseboards.

Also a top-to-bottom cleaning on everything in the buildings – equipment and all – was done.

“We fogged the building yesterday, and we did touchups here and there and on the walls.”

It might have seemed to some as busy work, but it was work that needed to be done and had been long planned. But with several hundred members throughout the day, it’s hard to do. With plenty of time to work on those projects and nobody in the building, things moved more quickly.

“We were constantly cleaning, constantly wiping down things like the ceiling fan, or taking the covers off the treadmills cleaning then and dusting them. Just things that we could think of that needed to be done,” Chris said.

Under strict guidelines, gyms and fitness centers are open during certain times and with limited capacity. Regular cleaning and sanitizing is required as well.

“At least now we’re open and people can trickle in and out,” Chris said. “They can use the spray bottles we have all over the place. We’re not expecting a big rush; I think people are still kind of in a mode of waiting to see what happens and how this transpires over the next week or so.”

The seven weeks were challenging for the Beckishes, but they’ve gone through similar trials. In 2014, the tornado that swept across the city all but destroyed a new building they had being constructed for expansion. But they bounced back and have grown again.

“If we can bounce back from that, we can bounce back from this,” Chris said. “The thing is, this is a family-oriented business and we’ve come to know everybody so well that you start to miss people, and you miss the stories about their lives, their families and all they have going on. It’s been tough ... but now we’re having a bunch of family reunions. We haven’t seen each other in 7-8 weeks and a lot can happen.”

For Shannon Chrisman, having Premiere Lady reopen couldn’t have opened soon enough. Before the pandemic shut down all gyms and fitness centers, she worked out at least an hour and a half daily.

“I’d work out with a trainer, then do cardio,” she said. “Then I went into a shock when they closed.”

The workouts were therapeutic; Chrisman has back issues, and using a treadmill or elliptical, in addition to weights, provided relief.

“So I had to walk instead, and walking uphill hurt my back,” she said. “I’m just so glad I’m back to my routine. With all this going on it was all messed up ... it just changed my whole mindset when I heard they were reopening.”

Premiere Athletix will be open Monday-Friday from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., while Premiere Lady will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., with the exception of Friday, when it closes at 4 p.m. Access will be available 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Athletix on Saturday.

The steam room and sauna at Lady will remain closed until further notice, and the Kidz Zone is open with a limit of eight kids.

Also, Premiere Tans will be open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Meanwhile, all safety measures and guidelines are posted throughout the facilities for employees and members to review.

“We’re going to do everything the guidelines tell us,” Chris Beckish said. “The main thing is to clean up and sanitize after using each piece of equipment, which we’re supposed to be doing anyway. We had a good thing going before all this happened, and felt like everything was sanitized ... we’re just thankful the governor allowed us and the salons to reopen. It’s good to be back.”


Twitter: @dennisseid

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