- August 27, 2021
Amid the darkness brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, this is a day of celebration for Lee and Alexis Lovette.
It’s Monday, May 25, and the couple — who own and operate CrossFit Winter Garden — stand in their new shrine to fitness.
During this grand opening of their facility on Carter Road — across from Windermere Collision Center — a sense of relief can be felt. The weight of being without a proverbial home has been lifted from their shoulders.
The Lovettes, like every other gym owner in the state, have dealt with the virus head-on. That fight nearly cost them the business they had worked so hard to build up.
“We actually were forced out by our landlords during this,” Lee Lovette said. “They never offered to help us. Even when rent was three or four days late, they sent notices of eviction — three-day notices to vacate — and they were extremely, extremely horrible to us during this time.
“We were forced out, but God works in mysterious ways, and an amazing spot became available,” he said. “It’s absolutely perfect for us — we’re saving a lot of money and we’re charging on.”
The space they had occupied — next to Mosaic Church in Winter Garden — now sits empty as the Lovettes celebrate a quasi-rebirth in the newer, smaller space.
Luckily for the Lovettes, the gym’s opening couldn’t have come at a better time, as gyms and fitness centers around the state are reopening after being given the OK by Gov. Ron DeSantis as part of the Full Phase One plan that went into effect Monday, May 18.
As a part of the reopening process, gyms are required to operate only up to 50% capacity while also maintaining stringent cleaning practices such as wiping down machines and weights after use. For places such as gyms, which have been among the hardest-hit businesses the last few months, owners are amenable to the new rules — mainly because they always have been a clean-centric business, Lee Lovette said.
“Our sanitation guidelines and procedures were already in place before coronavirus hit,” Lee Lovette said. “So when it hit, people were like, ‘Oh, are you sanitizing everything?’ Well, we have never not sanitized everything. Me being as OCD as I am with my gym, with my programming and with my equipment, it wasn’t much of a change.”
Keeping up higher sanitation standards isn’t that hard, said Mike Willey, general manager and coach at D1 Training in Dr. Phillips.
It also helps that the D1 facility is new. It had been open for about 30 days before the pandemic forced its doors shut.
“We are a brand-new facility,” Willey said. “If you’re looking for someplace clean and organized, there is nothing newer than us. Worrying about things being dirty or being an environment for germs isn’t really a big concern.”
The bigger concern for Willey was having a new facility shut down almost as soon as it had opened. D1 had to freeze a majority of its memberships — meaning there was no money coming in. Because of the freeze, some members dropped, leaving the gym with only 13.
Willey said he and his members were elated when they learned D1 would be allowed to reopen.
“We are a brand-new facility. If you’re looking for someplace clean and organized, there is nothing newer than us. Worrying about things being dirty or being an environment for germs isn’t really a big concern.”
— Mike Willey, general manager and coach at D1 Training in Dr. Phillips
“I thought, ‘Let’s go!’” Willey said. “Finally — we had a lot of stuff planned and in the pipeline ready to rock and roll. Our grand opening was scheduled to happen that weekend we got closed, so it was a relief to finally be open.”
D1 opened Monday, May 18, and like CrossFit Winter Garden, it will be sanitized frequently. Furthermore, staff also will be conducting temperature checks with a laser thermometer of everyone who enters the facilities.
Willey said there has been a decent turnout, but the hope is that people start warming back up to coming to the gym, which hopefully will be aided by D1 holding special discounts.
And there is a bigger hope that goes beyond just surviving and making money, Willey said. It’s also as much about helping to keep people healthy so they are better equipped to fight the virus and slow its spread.
“Here, you’re working out, and obviously that’s going to keep you healthier,” Willey said. “If you’re coming here three days a week like we’d like you to, your chances of getting it are very low from my knowledge and my understanding. I think it’s very important for just a general health and wellbeing standpoint, but also to keep your immune system up — it’s huge.”