SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- In June 2021, California officially reopened, marking the end of many pandemic restrictions -- and that meant a gym in Scripps Ranch could finally let members back inside.
Two years later, ABC 10News got a chance to see how that gym with the unusual name is doing after making it through a tough time when many fitness centers had to close for good.
For Eat the Frog fitness leader Damien Evans, leading a class through a rousing workout? No sweat.
But helping a gym bounce back from the pandemic, that takes a little more work.
“It was a learning curve. We still had to have lines on the floor. We had to make sure everyone rotated the right way. The cleaning protocol was crazy, but we were just really, really excited to have everyone back.”
Damien said he’s grateful for the hustle and bustle these days inside the Scripps Ranch location because it's a far cry from what it looked like 2 years ago just before the state reopened. Much of the equipment and all the classes had been set up under a tent in the back parking lot.
The gym had just opened in January 2020. Two months later, COVID-19 pandemic restrictions forced them to offer virtual classes and go outside.
One thing that never changed: The eagerness to “eat the frog.”
“So ‘eat the frog’ came from a Mark Twain quote and he said if you have to eat a live frog, you might as well do it first thing. Everything else for the rest of day will be easy when you do your hardest task first, so just get it out of the way,” explains Damien.
Members can eat that frog as a group in classes or individually with guidance on big screens. To get ready for the time when things inside would be hopping, Eat the Frog installed air filtration systems, opened the doors and cleaned rigorously.
“So those measures are still in place here. We just listened to our members on what they felt comfortable with. We really tried to communicate; we asked them what do you feel comfortable with us doing in order for you to come back?”
Not only did they come back, new members came in, like Zarina Sadat.
When asked if having this as an outlet helped her get through the tail end of the pandemic, Zarina replied, “Oh, absolutely. Even to this day I'm like, ‘I'm tired’ or you know busy and I'm like, ‘I need to get in there.’”
She said the mental boost is even more important than the physical one.
“Oh, mentally is like 100% even more than the physical aspect of it. You know, rough day or workday, what not, come into the gym and kind of like let it all out.”
Damien said it's the support for mental well-being and each other that is this gym's true strength.
“We're not just a gym that people go to and leave. We try to make this your fit family -- somewhere you go to enjoy being with the people you're around.”
While you'll still find remnants of the recent past -- the frame of the tent they used outside is still up -- Eat the Frog is decidedly leaping forward into the future.
“I tell the crew, the harder the climb the more breathtaking the view and we are going to look back on that time period and just be so proud of what we all accomplished our members our staff and the people here.”
Damien said they're also adding some new equipment and new membership options soon including one-on-one personal training, health coaching and an accountability club that helps members stay true to their goals.