Fitness centers were among the first businesses required to close their doors when the COVID-19 pandemic first hit. In many cases, both fitness center owners and customers worked to keep their fitness habits alive.

“I'm passionate about fitness,” said Joleen Platt, of Phoenix Fitness in Pequot Lakes. “And I love teaching, and those are my students and I love it so I had to figure out a way to try to go online with it.”

Platt immediately started exploring different workout options for her students, eventually deciding to use Facebook Live to keep her yoga classes with her students alive. After she worked out small glitches, like Facebook copyright protection for songs and memory limits on her phone, she opened the classes up to her waiting fans.

“So, I go to my studio and record a class live on Facebook, and I post it to that specific group,” Platt said. “And they pay me for it through Venmo, credit card or check. So they can continue their workouts. So it's been going really good. At first I just said I was going to do like three classes a week, but I literally go six days a week and record a class for them.”

During stressful times, Platt said continuing a workout routine is important for mental and physical stability.

“A lot of my group, that's what we do - we work out and it's just part of our lifestyle,” Platt said. “When you can't do it, you know, it's that mental stability, and that release that you need. I know I do it every day so I want to bring that to them too.”

Sean Kaneski, of Pequot Lakes, is one of Platt's customers for her yoga sculpt classes and now her virtual classes. Platt has been Kaneski's instructor for nearly 10 years, so when the fitness centers all closed, he was at a loss.

“These yoga classes need an instructor,” Kaneski said. “I can't do them on my own. I do other training, so that was something to just switch over and do. But to lose the yoga component kind of left us high and dry with nowhere to go.”

He explored other virtual yoga options for just over a week before Platt's live classes came online.

“I really like the way Jo does the classes,” Kaneski said. “I was looking at some of the other larger places that do yoga and stuff, maybe doing some of their streaming services. I never found anyone that did the classes like Jo. It was good to see she was able to make that work.”

Kathy Martin, of Pequot Lakes, was in the same position and losing access to fitness classes made a big difference in how she starts her day.

“For me, I'm a member of Phoenix Fitness and Snap Fitness,” Martin said. “I would typically be at the gym by 5 a.m. every morning and done by 7 a.m.. Usually six days a week. I would get done by 7 a.m. and be done working out for the day. To me it's like having my cup of coffee. I have to have my workout.”

For both Martin and Kaneski, having those Facebook Live classes brought back an important part of their daily routine. However, it was only part of what they did to adapt to the new normal. To make yoga feel more like it would in the studio, they both had to create their own workout spaces, including items like sound equipment, smart televisions to stream workouts and heaters for the hot yoga experience.

“We have an unfinished basement,” Martin said. “We always had a treadmill down there so we made an area where I do yoga with heat for yoga sculpt or yoga with weights.”

“Before this I had a TV set up on a table and I did my indoor bike training in there,” Kaneski said. “When this happened I put in a sound bar and redid the TV so now it's elevated. We put in heaters and racks for yoga mats.”

Martin and Kaneski also have families who work out.

“I do yoga, my son does yoga and a night workout program,” Kaneski said. “My daughter and my wife do yoga. They all do different kinds. We almost have to book it out to set it up on everyone's schedules. We sit down at night and see who's using it when. ”

“Then we have places for kids with a circuit in the basement to go to different stations to do workouts,” Martin said. “Sometimes they do their own things. My daughter does YouTube workouts. My son does a lot of workouts based on what he's done in hockey before. My oldest son is the most motivated in wanting to work out. My two youngest are 8 and 10, so working out is more fun like playing on the trampoline.”

There have been positive results from the changes they have made. Martin's and Kaneski's family members are likely to continue to use their adapted workout spaces even after fitness centers reopen, some with more vigor than before.

“My son found this night training program and it's something he's really embraced and he's going to continue doing that,” Kaneski said. “It's great for him to do it. My wife and my daughter found different kinds of yogas on different apps and I could see them continuing as well. I could see this space continuing to be used.”

Travis Grimler may be reached at 218-855-5853 or Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter at