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Pandemic brings new challenges for gym owner

The former Steamboat Pilot & Today press room is being used to hold classes for Manic Training. (Photo by John F. Russell)

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Graham Muir knows how to overcome challenges whether it’s as an athlete taking on the Alaskan frontier, as a coach pushing athletes to reach goals or as a business owner keeping his gym afloat in the middle of a pandemic.

“We’ve been in a tent all summer, outside,” Muir said. “Now that it’s getting colder, we needed some more space for client comfort, and had an opportunity to move over into the printing room, which is about 10,000 to 12,000 square feet.”

The extreme endurance athlete, who owns Manic Training in Steamboat Springs, recently moved his business into the building vacated in 2018 by the Steamboat Pilot & Today building at the corner of Curve Plaza and Elk River Road.



Muir completed the 350-mile course at the 2019 Iditarod Trail Invitational fat tire bike race and completed 700 miles of the 1,000-mile course in this year’s event. For more than eight months, he has had his endurance further tested by the challenges of the global pandemic.

“It’s had a huge impact,” he said of the virus on his business. “That’s why we had to make all these moves, you know. But people have been pretty loyal and have definitely been stepping up to help us out to keep the doors open, but there are still a lot of people who are just not comfortable coming back.”



Muir said he shifted quickly after being closed in March to help stop the spread of the virus. He created workouts that his clients could do at home and, after being allowed to reopen the doors of his current gym, he added a 3,000-square foot tent with side panels that could be opened so that his athletes could move outside for workouts and feel safe.

But it’s been an uphill climb for the business owner who has been working hard to create a safe environment for his customers with new workout protocols, assigned spacing and heightened cleaning procedures.

“We’ve had to change the programming,” Muir said. “We have individual spaces blocked off and where people previously would work a circuit, we would interchange with people quite constantly, but now you’re in one spot, and then you’ll move to do something else. So it’s keeping people in their own environment. We were pretty strong on our cleaning previously, even before the pandemic started, but now we doubled down on it.”

Muir said he was starting to see his clients return this summer after he added the tent, but as temperatures dropped he realized that he was going to have to find more space.

“It seemed like a perfect storm,” said Kevin Riegler, who has plans to start developing the former Pilot & Today building into Basecamp in the spring. “We’ve got 12,000 or 13,000 feet on that warehouse side and given the state of the union right now, it’s as safe as you could dream up.”

The $4.7 million sale closed June 25, and developer Kevin Riegler said the plan is to start work in spring 2021 on the creation of Basecamp, a new mixed-use development that will include residential, retail and restaurant space.

But until the work begins, the space is large enough for Muir to spread out the equipment he uses and allows each client to have their own particular space. The warehouse is large and spacious with high ceilings and a massive HVAC system that Muir said provides great ventilation. Clients have their temperatures checked as they walk in the doors and classes are set up to provide plenty of social distancing.

The added space has been a blessing for Muir, who was required to limit his classes to just 10 clients per class last week after Steamboat was moved to level red. He said that allows about 1,200 square feet per client, but will allow for more room to grow if Steamboat isn’t able to flatten the curve.

“Right now the battle is keeping things going in the right direction for the winter,” Muir said. “Obviously going through what we’re going through right now is pretty challenging. … It’s just trying to keep the head up and the best for them as well, and trying to keep every one safe in the environment we’re in.”


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