Although she’s nervous about possible fines, or that the Siskiyou County Public Health Department might shut her down, Hollenshade also knows that she must either reopen, or lose her business.

Debbie Hollenshade couldn’t have purchased Mountain Fitness at a worse time. She closed escrow just three weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, prompting Gov. Gavin Newsom to issue a stay at home order that closed her three gyms in Mount Shasta and Lake Shastina.

On Monday, June 1, Hollenshade has made the decision to reopen against Newsom’s order and without the blessing of county public health officials.

Although she’s nervous about possible fines, or that the Siskiyou County Public Health Department might shut her down, Hollenshade also knows that she must either reopen, or lose her business.

Hollenshade put her life savings into purchasing the gyms, where she worked as a bookkeeper for three years before deciding to purchase the business.

She had no time to build reserves and because she owned the business for such a short time, she doesn’t qualify for most of the government’s loan assistance programs.

Over the past two months, Hollenshade said she’s hemorrhaged more than 200 members and is expecting to lose $15,000 in revenue a month through the end of the year until people feel comfortable enough to visit gyms again.

Hollenshade said she believes the Governor is working on safety guidelines for gyms and that he’ll give the go-ahead sometime next week.

“We have weighed the options and feel we are making the right choice,” Hollenshade said in an email to her members. “We do not feel we are at any more of a risk than any other business currently given the go ahead to open so long as we work together to enforce the safety guidelines we have put in place.”

Her plan includes new sanitizing practices that require members to clean machines both before and after using them; six foot distancing between members; reduction in class sizes and temporary elimination of others; and not allowing day passes for people living out of the area.

“We expect to have low attendance at the gyms which should make social distancing easy,” she said, and believes the gyms will be operating at less than 25% of their maximum capacity.

Hollenshade said while she was worried about defying the Governor’s orders, she was more worried about the reaction she’d get from her members. However, after sending out the email announcing the reopening, “95% of the response I got was positive,” she said.

For those who are not ready to come back to the gym, Hollenshade has allowed them to put their memberships on hold. During the pandemic while the gyms were closed, she didn’t charge membership fees – a step that hurt her financially, but one she thought was right.

During that time, some members did continue to pay, “and that helped,” Hollenshade said. “But we are at the point where we just have to reopen now, or close the doors permanently.”

Mountain Fitness is currently waving its joining fee, said Hollenshade. Call (530) 926-3589.

About Mountain Fitness

Mountain Fitness South: 1630 S. Mt. Shasta Blvd., Mount Shasta, (530) 926-3589

Mountain Fitness at the Wellness Center: 633 Lassen Ln. Mount Shasta, (530) 926-6010

Mountain Fitness in Lake Shastina: 20508 Big Springs Rd., Weed