Local business owners expand fitness classes to virtual platform
The Slayton-based fitness club now reaches participants from all over the country.
SLAYTON ― While gyms and fitness centers around the state have been reeling from the on-again-off-again executive orders issued by Gov. Tim Walz to slow the spread of coronavirus, one local business has capitalized on the limitations by moving its fitness classes online.
Amanda Berreau and Amy Kathman opened B4 Fitness, a group-based fitness program, in Slayton in 2014. In lieu of a permanent facility, the business owners rent space in city buildings or hold classes in public parks, if the weather is nice.
Both teach the various fitness classes offered by B4, and Berreau is also a certified personal trainer. They love their jobs for many reasons, not the least of which is that they believe strongly in the power of fitness and healthy living.
"Helping other people ― that's the main thing for us," Berreau said.
Over the last six years, the women have built a strong following of members, so it was tough news that for executive order purposes, B4 still counts as a gym setting and must follow the same rules as a YMCA or any other traditional gym. That means that for the duration of the current pause order, they aren't allowed to hold in-person classes, even if they social distance or meet outside.
But they refused to be discouraged.
"We could have made the worst of 2020," Kathman said, "but we've kept going."
They have moved their platform to a virtual setting, inviting folks to join a private Facebook group after they sign up for a class. Classes are a month long and include a variety of methods ― December offerings are Turbo Kick Live, a popular cardio kickboxing program, and SYNC, a strength training class that Kathman and Berreau developed themselves.
The trainers film themselves leading the classes and then upload the videos to the private Facebook group, allowing class members to feel free to do the workouts on their own time. A new workout is posted each weekday.
Every so often, B4 Fitness will host a fundraiser for a local nonprofit, such as the food shelf or the cancer society, by doing one free class session in exchange for a free-will donation. This allows new people to try out their services risk-free.
"We're reaching out to members who are more distant," said Berreau, explaining that they have class members as far away as North Carolina.
"We've been able to recruit those people who like to work out privately," Kathman said. Some local participants prefer to stay at home and like the flexibility of doing the workouts when it's convenient for them.
"We've built a little community," she added, saying that class members encourage each other on the Facebook group page, making up for some of the social connection that they may be missing by not meeting in person.
When the COVID pandemic is under control and they're able to return to business as usual, the women plan to continue offering virtual classes in addition to in-person workouts, in order to appeal to a wide range of preferences.
One element that has helped their business stay successful throughout COVID-19 is the years they spent building rapport with their members. Since 2014, both Berreau and Kathman have each taken a sabbatical from teaching classes in order to have children. Their class members got to watch them return from post-pregnancy bodies to their typical levels of fitness.
"We're just like you," Berreau said. "We, too, are on our own personal fitness journeys."
They are both excited that they get to keep promoting health and fitness.
"It's never too late to start," Berreau said.
The easiest way to join a B4 Fitness class is by visiting the business's Facebook page . Interested parties may send a private message to inquire about pricing and membership.