For Intense Conditioning of Homewood, the silver lining of the COVID-19 pandemic’s dark cloud arrived on April 3, when owner Janet Caldanaro officially reopened the business in a new home.
Caldanaro started the business seven years ago almost to the day in a small shop at 18033 Dixie Highway.
She tried to keep the business going through the first year of the pandemic, but finally had to put things on hold late last year.
“It was hard to justify paying the rent when we had to be closed because of the regulations,” she said. “We made it through the first round of shutdowns, and then we reopened when we could. Then they shut us down again in November. I didn’t know how long it was going to go on, so we shut down.”
Although progress toward returning to normal has been halting, there are signs the pandemic is beginning to ease, so when another fitness business left the space on the west side of the building at 1820 Ridge Road, Caldanaro saw an opportunity to reopen.
The new space is larger and with more parking than the center’s previous home. Having a place for her family of fitness clients to gather is important, but Caldanaro said the lack of location didn’t stop the workouts.
Like many businesses affected by the spring 2020 shutdown, Intense Conditioning quickly adapted and moved operations online. Caldanaro said online workouts would continue, even though there is now a physical location available.
“There are some people who are not ready to be inside,” she said.
Being inside has always been optional for Caldanaro’s fitness clients. The business emerged from outdoor workouts she held eight years ago at various parks. Her groups were informal, and workout sessions were announced by word-of-mouth.
But they were popular, and when fall came and night arrived earlier every day, “everyone said ‘Why don’t you open a gym?’ And I said, ‘Oh no, I would never do that,’” Caldanaro said, only to find herself opening the shop on Dixie Highway a year later.
Even with a place to conduct workouts and classes, Caldanaro has taught clients to find ways to keep moving wherever they are.
“I try to teach everybody how to be able to work out no matter where you are,” she said. “The world is your gym.”
She also tries to bring a sense of fun to an activity many people see as a chore, issuing fitness challenges to her clients. She suggests, for instance, that clients invite strangers to do a brief workout with them.
“Get someobdy to do squats with you and you get a free class,” she said. “I’m always trying to get people to get somebody else moving for the day.”
At the ribbon cutting event April 3, long-time client and now instructor Shelly Marks vouched for Caldanaro’s approach.
“This is very inspiring. It changed my life,” she said. “I’ve never been this fit.”
She said Caldanaro’s ability to make working out a fun adventure helped her keep going.
“You have to find something you like and people you like” in order to sustain the effort, she said.