San Diego gym with a unique name makes it through pandemic thanks to determined members

Posted at 6:51 AM, Jun 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-15 21:05:13-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- The first workout of the day at Eat the Frog Fitness in Scripps Ranch looks nothing like it has in the last 15 months, and that’s because on California’s reopening day, most of the equipment that had been outside under a tent is now back inside, and more importantly, so are most of the members.

Leading up to this day were the last few classes held outside. Eat the Frog Fitness just opened in January 2020, two months before the state shutdown.

To survive the coronavirus pandemic, owner Mike Gormley said he and his gym staff came up with a way to use the giant screens they have in the gym.

“Three times a day, we would actually livestream those workouts along with a coach via Zoom,” Gormley said.

The question was, would members -- some of whom might be struggling financially -- still pay for virtual classes?

Gormley said he made a simple offer, and the response was overwhelming.

“Let us know what you can afford on membership dues until we get back to normal and no questions asked, and that's what we will charge,” Gormley said he told members.

So first virtually, then outside, members started lining up to “eat the frog.”

“It's an old Mark Twain saying, and he said if you have to eat a live frog do it first thing in the morning and the rest of your day will be amazing,” Gormley explained.

In other words, do the thing you need to do, but aren't really motivated to, first. That get-it-done philosophy has helped Eat the Frog be ready to welcome members back inside.

“From the filters, having filtration systems in there that are providing purification to having the doors. We're fortunate enough to have exterior doors we can keep open to very limited sharing of equipment,” Gormley said.

One of the keys to reducing pandemic stress, experts say, has been exercise. Gormley said it feels great to provide a place to do that.

“For 55 minutes, they feel good about themselves, eat their frog, then go back and live their normal lives,” he told ABC 10News.

Gormley said he's hopeful for a future of not just getting back to normal, but of moving forward to something better.

“I know it's not going to be the same and I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing. I think a lot of people now are going to appreciate what we maybe took for granted in the past,” said Gormley.

The fitness center is keeping several machines outside for members who feel more comfortable out here; they can follow along via a large screen.

Gormley said Eat the Frog has plans to open 14 more locations in San Diego County and 13 in Orange County in the next few years.