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Carlos Soto walking into a Life Time club.

The possibility that fitness centers in Minnesota would be part of the next round of closures started circulating early in the week, with the news confirmed on Wednesday, November 18, during Governor Tim Walz’s televised address. According to the latest executive order, all health clubs and gyms are required to shutdown for four weeks, effective Friday, November 20, at 11:59 p.m., in an effort to slow the community spread of COVID-19.

Since the reopening of Life Time clubs in June, teams across all 23 Minnesota locations have been following robust safety and cleaning protocols in accordance with requirements from the Minnesota Department of Health, as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In that same time period, contract tracing has not identified Life Time as the source of any COVID-19 cases.

For those members who have chosen to return, these safety and cleaning efforts, as well as tracking practices, allow them to pursue their healthy-living goals in a safe, supportive environment.

In light of the shutdown, we reached out to members who belong to a variety of our Minnesota clubs to get their perspectives on the announcement, to learn how the closures may affect them, and to get their views on our health and safety protocols. This is what we heard from them, with the conversations edited for length and clarity.

Stephanie Tennessen

Member at Life Time Edina

Stephanie Tennesen with her son at Life Time.

What was your reaction to Minnesota announcing the closure of gyms?

It just really makes me sad, for individuals and for our state as a whole. I see so many members at Life Time doing the best they can to maintain their physical and mental health. It’s been nice as a family for all of us to go and exercise at Life Time. My family loves cycling classes and that was a big social outlet for them that they’ll miss. It was pretty much their only form of social activity this year.

Did being able to go to Life Time after we reopened earlier this year have any impact on your physical and mental health?

Earlier this year when I was training for a world record [note: Tennessen broke the Guinness World Record for most chest-to-ground burpees earlier this year by doing 715 in one hour], being able to get out of my living room and have so many people positively support me at Life Time was so inspiring for me. It has inspired me to keep training and beat another record in March 2021. It helps to have that positive feedback from people to stay motivated.

How do you feel about the cleaning and safety protocols Life Time implemented this year?

I work in health care as a massage therapist, and because of the people I interact with every day, it’s important to me to have safety protocols at the places I go. I wouldn’t be comfortable going to Life Time every day if they weren’t on top of things. Members are wearing masks and cleaning equipment. I feel like the people who have come back to the gym also see that and are comfortable being there.

Carlos Soto

Member at Life Time White Bear Lake

Carlos Soto getting out of a truck before going into Life Time.

What was your reaction to Minnesota announcing the closure of gyms?

I’m a truck driver and I visit Life Time clubs all across the country. I know that the team at Life Time is dedicated to keeping everything clean, and also how strict the company is compared to other gyms I’ve been to. The announcement is very sad for me because I know Life Time takes this seriously. I haven’t heard of one person say they got COVID-19 at Life Time. Like CEO Bahram Akradi said, our health is our top priority right now.

Did being able to go to Life Time after we reopened earlier this year have any impact on your physical and mental health?

It really kept me sane this year. Exercising and lifting at the clubs helps me to perform 100 percent in my job as a truck driver, as well as be in a good mood through all parts of my life.

How do you feel about the cleaning and safety protocols Life Time implemented this year?

I love it. I can’t express my appreciation enough, especially when I see everyone — account managers, trainers, everyone — pulling together to clean the entire facility and keep it 1100 percent for us, the customers.

Mike Leonard

Member at Life Time Plymouth

Mike Leonard holding at water bottle in Life Time.

What was your reaction to Minnesota announcing the closure of gyms?

I had two initial reactions: The first is that I respect the Governor’s decision because there are a lot of people at risk out there. Out of respect to those people, we need to take care of them. On the other hand, I think Life Time has done a phenomenal job keeping the clubs clean. I haven’t heard of a case of COVID-19 from anyone in our classes. I think it’s sad health clubs have to close down. It’s too bad that Life Time did everything right and still needs to close.

Did being able to go to Life Time after we reopened earlier this year have any impact on your physical and mental health?

I started my weight-loss voyage last August and I had just gotten into changing my eating habits when I was introduced to Keri Anderson, a personal trainer at Life Time Plymouth. Keri and Life Time have been good for me when it comes to planning and sticking to my goals. Thanks to her, I’m now used to looking at my week ahead and discussing how I would handle my food choices with her.

I started at about 270 to 275 pounds last year, and my waist size was 42 inches. Now, I’m around  pounds and my waist is down to 35 inches. My goal is to keep myself at 205 to 210 pounds. Even if the clubs close, I’ll keep talking to Keri to stay accountable. I have workout equipment in my basement. I’ll do whatever I need to do to maintain my workouts until the club opens back up and I can return to my workout routine. I can’t wait to attend Jon Knutson’s classes at Plymouth again — he’s one of the finest fitness instructors you have.

How do you feel about the cleaning and safety protocols Life Time implemented this year?

I am always impressed with how the clean everything is after each class. Everyone is spaced apart and wears masks until we start working out. It feels like a safe place to be.

Kyle Groves

Member at Life Time Eagan

Kyle Groves in front of Life Time.

What was your reaction to Minnesota announcing the closure of gyms?

I was very disappointed. When Life Time reopened in June, it was a bright spot in the year. I go four or five times a week. It’s my community; it’s the friends and life groups I’m a part of.

Did being able to go to Life Time after we reopened earlier this year have any impact on your physical and mental health?

It certainly helps both for sure. You can be healthy without a club, but there’s better accountability that comes from being able to go to Life Time. I’m an avid group fitness goer — that’s how I choose to stay fit and stay accountable. The thing that’s less obvious are the benefits exercise has on mental health. Life Time provides that for me with the friendships and community I mentioned, or even just working from the Life Café. I work from home right now and enjoy setting up my laptop there from time to time — that brings emotional stability to me as well.

How do you feel about the cleaning and safety protocols Life Time implemented this year?

I think it’s a tribute to how seriously Life Time takes this whole thing. The lengths and measures they went to in order to protect their members is commendable — I think they go above and beyond. Life Time goes the extra distance with cleaning everything, making sure people are wearing masks, and ensuring that everything is spaced out. Once this is all done, I wouldn’t mind still having everything set up for me at a class once it’s over. I’ve been spoiled there.

Kimber Cadieux

Member at Life Time Edina

Kimber Cadieux flexing next to her trainer at Life Time.

What was your reaction to Minnesota announcing the closure of gyms?

I was shocked. I felt that Life Time, in particular, does a really good job with their protocols such as the mask wearing. The statewide numbers and the stats that were presented didn’t seem to prove that gyms should close. They appear to be a good haven for health.

I went through the first closing. I have one year to go until can be declared cancer free. It was a decision on my part on if I wanted to keep going during my treatment, and I feel going there has benefited me way more than sitting around taking medicine would.

Did being able to go to Life Time after we reopened earlier this year have any impact on your physical and mental health?
My mental well-being is 1000 percent better now and I think it’s because I’m being proactive with it. My health is totally turning around. All my measurements are getting into line. I’m no longer prediabetic — I attribute that to Life Time and my trainer, Nick Selly. He’s the best. We get along great and I can’t imagine training without him.

When I found out I had uterine cancer in 2016, I had to go through treatments like chemo and radiation. As a result of that, I was inactive and gained more weight. So, I went to Life Time when they opened in Edina. It’s taken off from there. It’s now become a habit for me to go and I feel so encouraged and supported there.

How do you feel about the cleaning and safety protocols Life Time implemented this year?

They are awesome. I have been amazed at how clean it is and how responsive Life Time has been to the whole idea of having to continually clean and space people out. I also get my haircut at the LifeSpa — It’s incredible the environment Life Time has provided. I wish everywhere could do what Life Time has done.

Naomi Thompson

Member at Life Time Chanhassen

What was your reaction to Minnesota announcing the closure of gyms?

I was heartbroken. I had just gotten back into a good routine with my group fitness classes — Barbell Strength and XTREME — a couple times a week. It’s been so good for both my physical and mental health this year.

I was also frankly confused. I feel completely safe at the club. I can see all around that Life Time is going above and beyond with the safety protocols. In all the fitness classes, the weights are set up and cleaned by team members. The members are also wearing masks and cleaning the machines while keeping their distance. Everyone seems to be working together.

Did being able to go to Life Time after we reopened earlier this year have any impact on your physical and mental health?

During the first shutdown in March, it was so hard because there was nowhere else to go. It was easy to be sedentary and that contributes to depression and negative feelings. Having a place to work out once Life Time reopened definitely improved my mental health this year. Also, in the wintertime, I don’t like exercising outside, and I have a hard time working out by myself at home. Not having the club to go to over the next four weeks is really going to be hard, both physically and mentally. I’m just really disappointed — Life Time is my happy place.

How do you feel about the cleaning and safety protocols Life Time implemented this year?

I feel like Life Time goes above and beyond. It’s very clear the team is doing everything they can to meet those protocols. At my club, the members are all doing their part as well because we want to keep the club open. We want to work together to keep it a safe place to go.

To learn more about Life Time’s enhanced safety and cleaning protocols, visit lifetime.life/safety. To voice your concerns about the closures of health clubs with elected officials, we invite you to send a very respectful, non-political message to Minnesota officials, expressing your desire to keep your clubs open, as follows:

Life
Life Time Editorial Team

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