For Anna Tiry, the owner of Anytime Fitness in Brookfield, the statewide mask mandate was “the last straw.”
“While I do support it (mandate), for a small business owner specifically in the fitness industry, it was kind of the last straw,” Tiry said.
Tiry had thought about trying a new concept for her members, but it wasn’t until a few days after the mandate went into effect that she reached out to the city of Brookfield to get plans for her idea approved.
The idea? An open-air gym.
She quickly worked with city staff to get a special temporary-use permit approved. She spent hours bidding and buying exercise equipment for the idea. And she even made a road trip to Michigan to get additional workout equipment.
Weeks after she got the ball rolling, the outdoor gym is now open. The open-air fitness center is in the parking lot of the Ruby Isle strip mall in Brookfield.
Tiry said she thinks it’s the only Anytime Fitness in the entire nation doing this.
“This whole project has been helpful for all of us, to be able to breathe new life into us,” Tiry said.
The outdoor gym, which is called The Annex, gives people an option to feel safe when working out.
“There’s the silent majority that I have a hard time getting a hold of and I’m just not seeing, so this is a way to build an outdoor gym for them so they have an outlet to go to,” Tiry said.
To Michigan and back
Tiry said she needed to buy equipment for the outdoor gym so other members of the club could still use the indoor gym.
She was working until 8:30 p.m. on a Wednesday trying to buy a jungle gym from a recently closed gym in Grand Haven, Michigan.
The next morning at 6 a.m., she was in a 17-foot U-Haul driving to pick it up.
“It was a little bit by the grace of God and the kindness of strangers that I was able to get it into the truck,” she said.
Hours later, she was making her way back to Wisconsin with the equipment.
How it works
Ten people are allowed in the gym at a time. There’s also always a staff person available.
One of the more popular items in the gym is what Tiry calls a “jungle gym for adults.” The workout equipment allows four people to use it at the same time.
There’s also a few bikes, pull-up bars and dumbbells. Tiry said she’s looking to purchase a bench press as well.
People can still use the outdoor gym if it rains, as there is a tent that protects the equipment. Staff keeps the gym open if it’s lightly raining, but they’ve had to close it for thunderstorms.
Much of the equipment is put into storage every night.
Tiry said a lot of people driving by or walking by will stop and take a look at the gym, which helps drive interest in the idea.
Liz Hartley, an attendant at The Annex, said she heard about the idea a few weeks ago.
“I personally have a difficult time sometimes running with a mask on, or lifting, with breathing,” Hartley said. “The idea of having an outdoor gym where you don’t have to wear a mask and it’s all open air, and especially with the weather, it’s a perfect time to go outside and go mask free and enjoy your workout.”
The Annex is open from sunrise to 7 p.m. weekdays and sunrise to 2 p.m. Saturdays.
Day passes and short-term memberships are available for nonmembers of the club.
Tiry said the gym will be open until the mask mandate expires at the end of September.
Learn more at facebook.com/AnytimeFitnessBrookfieldWi.
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