When the coronavirus took its first stranglehold on the country in March, most small businesses around the country shuttered their doors.

Five months later, some businesses are still struggling to get back up to speed. Expansion for locally owned businesses, it seemed, was a long shot in the current pandemic. Expansion in the health club world seemed even more challenging as clubs from coast to coast dealt with COVID-19 protocols and the close proximity for patrons.

But Jayme Smid, franchise owner of Anytime Fitness in Brandon, had plans for expansion prior to the coronavirus, and she’s seeing it through.

Anytime Fitness recently added 1,200 square feet to its facility on Redwood Boulevard. A grand opening was held on Saturday, Aug. 22, and Smid said by all accounts, people in Brandon are grateful for the expansion and the opportunity to stay fit during this unpredictable time.

“It was one of those scary steps because now probably isn’t the time to do this with us not knowing what the end of this pandemic looks like,” Smid said. “But we thought that our members are going to want more space, now more than ever. There is a need because we’ve seen a lot of people come into the gym to work on their immune system and stay healthy through all this.”

Smid said the extra space is going to primarily be used for updated training programs. She said the club already has a robust training program, but they’ve revamped it with the additional space.

The club hosts 20 sessions per week that includes anywhere from 8-10 people beginning as early as 5 a.m. Smid said coaches are available to modify exercises as needed, and they’re able to work around injuries, motivate and challenge participants.

“It’s a great way for anybody to get a great workout if they don’t have a lot of experience in the gym or need support to push them,” said Smid, who also owns the Anytime Fitness franchise in Huron.

Smid said the expansion has been necessary because of the ironic boost in business during the pandemic. This summer, the club moved the training program outside to help with social distancing. The sessions were also free to the community.

“We had so many people thank us because they said they needed the stress reliever. So many people told us, ‘I needed some type of normalcy in my life right now,’” Smid said. “People’s lives were turned upside down. Our members have been so thankful and our community has been thankful that we’ve continued to offer different programming and things to help keep them moving.”

The start of school is also a time when parents are looking to get things back into a routine, Smid said. Expanding the club and offering additional classes lends itself to that routine.

“If nothing else, it’s 30 minutes of ‘me time’ to help with their sanity a little bit,” she said.

Smid is originally from Huron, but she and her family call Brandon home now. She said Brandon was one of the last viable markets in South Dakota to open an Anytime Fitness. She’s owned the Brandon facility for more than six years. She worked as an intern at the Huron facility while she was in college at SDSU and also worked at the SDSU wellness center for three years on campus.

“I knew I wanted to do something in the health and wellness field, and I wanted to own Anytime Fitness,” she said. “I love the Brandon community. I love that it’s close to Sioux Falls, but still has that small town feel. It’s been a really good ride.”

Despite the excitement of expanding the facility, she said there have been anxious moments by taking such a leap during a global pandemic in an industry that has been hit hard due to quarantines.

“There’s been some lost sleep. I think for any business owner, right now has been very challenging and very stressful,” Smid said. “But at the end of the day, we’re so proud of what we’re able to provide for our community and the relationships we’ve been able to build and create, and know that we are helping people keep that healthy aspect in their life. That’s more important now than ever before.”

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