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Jul 7

BKM Bootcamp muscled its way through dark days of pandemic – St. Louis American

Helping people stay fit was a tough exercise while Briant K. Mitchell was trying to stay in business.

I lost 65% of my business due to the COVID-19 pandemic, said Mitchell, BKM Bootcamp owner.

Mitchell opened the business in Ferguson on August 1, 2008, and offers cardio workouts, nutrition counseling and weight training.

A combination of the three will cause your body to do things that you never thought were possible, he says on BKMs website.

The pandemic forced Mitchell to close the gym doors to the public, but he came up with creative solutions to keep health and fitness programs going.

Its been a rough go, Mitchell said.

In the beginning, it wasnt as bad because I was fortunate enough to have virtual classes. I had to figure out a way to capture the attention of people here in St. Louis and out of town. However, over the course of time, people started getting bored with the Zoom workouts, which caused the membership drop.

Safety has been a top concern for BKM Bootcamp over the course of the pandemic, and strenuous cleaning activities occur before, during and after workouts.

I do my best to talk to people and encourage them to work out, Mitchell said. God forbid anyone catch COVID-19, some of my members actually did.

According to National Institutes of Health research, people who exercise have stronger immune systems, which can help combat COVID-19 and other diseases.

Clients, who have gotten really sick from the virus, testified to me that if they had not been in good shape, then they dont know if they could have survived it. - Briant K. Mitchell, BKM Bootcamp owner

We are fortunate enough to not have lost any clients to the COVID-19 pandemic, Mitchell said.

Using small group classes where people wear a mask has been our way to combat the pandemic while opening our doors for people to return to do in-person workouts.

Clients, who have gotten really sick from the virus, testified to me that if they had not been in good shape, then they dont know if they could have survived it.

BKM Bootcamp re-opened to the public on May 1. Capacity for in-person workouts is 50 people, although County guidelines allowed businesses to expand to 50% in February.

Before the pandemic, between 100 and 150 people would come to the gym daily for workouts, Mitchell said.

Ive recently added more classes to accommodate more people in smaller classes to make everyone feel safe.

Although this has been a tough time for the gym, Mitchell believes helping the community in health and fitness is his true calling. This belief has kept him going through the hard times.

Knowing that I serve a purpose helps me to keep going every single day, Mitchell said.

Eighty percent of my income comes from the gym; I should have been able to coast through the pandemic, but my income has been affected because I continuously give to so many people.

The 7,400 square feet facility has become a place where people can go for a life-changing experience.

People need this gym, Mitchell said.

I didnt know it. Sometimes I still dont believe it, but people come up to me and tell me You saved my life. I would do it all over again to save lives. If I had to go through a recession to keep my gym open to save lives, I would.

More than 50 people have lost 100 pounds through Mitchells fitness and nutrition programs.

Dr. Miranda Ming, Eagle College Prep regional executive director, joined the gym in 2014 and hit weight loss goals twice. She heard about BKM from fellow educators.

I originally started at 225 pounds and lost a little over 30 pounds, Ming said.

After my traumatic pregnancy, I gained a bunch of weight and started at 266 pounds; Im currently down to 161 pounds.

Ming lost around 105 pounds in the last year at the Bootcamp. According to the educator, this was possible through hard work and accountability.

Its challenging, but youre not in it alone, Ming said.

For so many of us who are juggling being a mom, wife and professional, its great to be in place where youre nurtured and supported while also being held accountable for your own health and wellness.

Mitchell plans to do more for the community.

We plan to go into underserved communities and talk to them about health and wellness; its more than fitness, its also mind and body, he said.

Ive seen the effects of the pandemic on adults, as well as our kids, who have stayed in the house eating snacks and playing video games. Now more than ever, people in underserved communities need to be aware of and learn more about health, wellness and fitness.

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BKM Bootcamp muscled its way through dark days of pandemic - St. Louis American

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