Denver fitness companies working hard to keep up with demand after gyms forced to close down

Staying active is important for physical and mental health
Posted at 5:03 PM, Mar 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-23 11:32:23-04

DENVER — Right off of I-25 in North Denver, a line of cars sat idling outside of a warehouse this week. One by one, the drivers pull up to a garage door and wait for warehouse employees to load heavy cardboard boxes into their cars.

Rep Fitness has been busy over the past few days trying to fill the orders of customers trying to get their hands on some workout equipment.

The company, which was started in 2012, is owned by two brothers, Ryan and Shane McGrotty. Their home gym supplies run the gamut from a few dollars to a few thousand depending on what you’re looking for.

“We all know Colorado is the fittest state in the country and so people really do enjoy coming into the store,” Ryan McGrotty said.

The mad dash for home gym equipment started after Governor Jared Polis announced that he was forcing gyms across the state to close down.

“It’s been pretty crazy,” said Ryan McGrotty. “We basically had a nonstop line of cars in the back waiting to load up.”

Balancing the new demand with the need to keep employees safe and healthy can be difficult for any company, as the state tells people to work from home and practice social distancing in the wake of the spread of the coronavirus.

Coronavirus in Colorado: Latest COVID-19 updates across the state

For now, Rep Fitness has some employees working from home, closed off its showroom to the public, is cleaning more frequently and even installed door kicks around the warehouse so employees won’t have to use their hands as often to open doors. It’s also not making customers sign off on their orders to minimize contact and bringing the orders right out to the client’s car.

“It’s definitely a unique situation but we try to adapt. Our team has really been coming together to try to support the community,” said Shane McGrotty.

The brothers say they are doing whatever they can to keep their business going and fill orders because they understand how important it is for people to be able to work out to keep their immune systems healthy.

However, exercise is also important for mental health, particularly during stressful times like the one we're all experiencing right now.

“In order to kind of cope with that new stress and those changes, it’s a good idea to keep up with a healthy living routine through some sort of physical exercise,” said Brian Gearity, the director of the Master’s in the Arts Sports Coaching Program at the University of Denver. “There’s more and more research studies looking at how physical exercise reduces anxiety and depression.”

Gearity said he’s never seen anything as wide-reaching as these closures, and it’s causing a lot of people to try to find other ways to stay active.

Not only are big gyms like Planet Fitness, 24 Hour Fitness and others closed down, but even apartments and neighborhoods are closing off access to their equipment.

“It’s pretty frustrating when you’re trying to be active and fit and you’re supposed to take care of yourself, but the options to take care of yourself are pretty limited right now,” he said.

But as thousands of Coloradans face reduced work hours or layoffs, not everyone can afford to spend hundreds of dollars on new gym equipment.

Gearity worries that people facing financial hardship will not be able to take care of their physical health as easily as those with a more stable income.

Still, he’s encouraging people to try to get 30 to 60 minutes of physical activity a day and to make sure that they are not overconsuming calories when they are working from home and anxious about everything that’s happening.

The Denver-based Gibson Athletic/Rage Fitness, meanwhile, announced that it is giving away $70,000 worth of workout equipment at its Denver location Wednesday and Thursday to help people stay fit.

Online, there are hundreds of videos on everything from yoga to Zumba to cycling to give people ideas on how to get a good workout without breaking the bank.

Other activities like walking, hiking or climbing stairs are also good ways to get in some cardio without requiring expensive equipment.

However, some outdoor activities like the Manitou Incline have been temporarily closed due to coronavirus concerns.

Back at Rep Fitness, Shane McGrotty, said you don’t have to spend a lot of money to stay active.

“You don’t need to have the best home gym or garage gym on the block to get a good workout in. It’s just a matter of having a sandbag, a jump rope and a couple dumbbells and you can do a ton of workouts,” he said.

In the end, Shane McGrotty, who majored in psychology, believes the most important thing for people to do is to stay motivated and keep moving for their physical and mental health.

“During these times when there’s a lot of anxiety going on and people are just anxious… physical fitness at home really makes it so that your mental health is in a lot better position,” he said.