The move from a space next door to Pine River Carpet to the former Plaid Duck Art Mall on Barclay Avenue in Pine River was fast. When it came time to move equipment, River Fitness owner Sharon Gensmer said friends, families and fitness club members helped haul the gear from the old space to the new space.
Gensmer said members were back to lifting weights the evening of the move on Nov. 29.
The new space, previously owned by Jackie and John Wetrosky, is three times the space of the old gym location, with expanded room for not only workouts, but tanning, changing and classroom space. Gensmer said before the move, new equipment meant getting rid of old equipment. Since acquiring the larger space, she has already added a new elliptical, a new rower, a multifunctional trainer, more barbells and weights and additional equipment.
"All of our spaces are a bit larger," Gensmer said. "We've added a couple tanning rooms."
Gensmer is perhaps most excited about the new classroom space, based in the historic Hill Hardware half of the building. Upon removing the suspended ceiling and carpet, Gensmer said they found 100-year-old hardwood floors and a tin ceiling.
"This room took on a life of its own. When we started uncovering things and saw the potential, it got exciting and we realized we needed to get past what we had in mind for renovation because it seemed to have its own story," Gensmer said. "We turned it into a ballroom, trying to keep the finishes a little nicer and less gym-like than the fitness side and definitely changed the lighting to be more conducive to things like yoga."
One half of the room is now outfitted with 20 feet of ballet barre with mirrors and will lend itself well to martial arts classes, TRX classes, yoga and barre class using the ballet equipment that is a mixture of ballet, yoga, pilates and other strength training techniques. Kristine Neumann is just one of the instructors coming to make use of the space.
"I'm excited and scared at the same time," Neumann said. "Sharon approached me and asked if I ever thought about doing a class. I'm brand new. She asked if I ever thought about it. I looked into classes I thought would cater or be of help and be fun. I told her I wanted to do barre. I went to Shakopee for training and got certified."
In addition to fitness uses, the ballroom space has already attracted interest from community members and groups hoping to use it for fundraisers, dances and events. Gensmer thinks the space will be well-suited to all of these uses.
"We definitely are fit and set for ballroom type dances and fundraisers," Gensmer said. "We would love to do classes. It's always about finding an instructor for whatever our customers' interests are."
Even though the use is new, the building itself will still have testaments to Pine River history, not only limited to the ballroom but including other artifacts in the building from when Gensmer was an employee of Silbaugh's Department Store and even earlier.
"We renovated the office space into tanning rooms, but we did keep the old phone, which was our tribute to what came before in this building," Gensmer said. "I'm going to have all the people who worked at Silbaugh's before sign our wall by the phone where we did credit card purchases."