With so much emphasis on health and safety during the COVID-19 pandemic, it's become common for people to have to put some healthy activities like fitness on the back burner.

As the coronavirus moved into the area and Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz began declaring closures of businesses in an effort to slow the virus spread, gyms like the Maslowski Wellness and Research Center in Wadena were forced to close. This meant a site where thousands of people visited each month was now off limits. This place where people gathered to stay fit, socialize and heal was locked.

One business person who relied heavily on having the Mas open was local personal trainer Nicole Pomerenke. After going through her own transformation, she's been helping others live a healthier life through nutrition and fitness offerings at the gym. But no gym, meant no work, at least until she could navigate through the many unknowns.

Nicole Pomerenke has been operating her fitness business out of a new location on Ash Avenue in Wadena in the former Wadena Chamber of Commerce building.
Michael Johnson/Pioneer Journal
Nicole Pomerenke has been operating her fitness business out of a new location on Ash Avenue in Wadena in the former Wadena Chamber of Commerce building. Michael Johnson/Pioneer Journal

Since July 1, Pomerenke has been seeing clients out of a new space in the former Wadena Chamber of Commerce office on Ash Avenue in Wadena. She says the spot is perfect for exposure and just right to work with clients individually.

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"This really got pushed because the gym was shut down," Pomerenke said.

She used to work out of the Mas either one-on-one or in various group classes. She said she would restart that again in August. Even so, she plans to maintain her own site in order to avoid the unknowns that can come along if the wellness center must close down again. Once returning to the wellness center she plans to continue strength training, water aerobics and equipment orientation.

During the first weeks of COVID-19, Pomerenke said she started developing video training, and writing more programs for her clients, but she was missing the connections with people. The personal trainer in her knew she needed to be right there supporting her clients to get them to achieve their goals. She even missed the small talk and staying up-to-date with everyone.

"I really feel more connected to people working with them one-on-one," Pomerenke said. "You can only do so much cheering via typing or something like that."

Another factor in her going out into her own space was her clients safety. Many are older or have preexisting conditions. The thought of going to a gym with many other people is not a choice some of them will make. In her new site, she is able to work one-on-one with clients using her fitness equipment or simply performing various body weight exercises.

"I'm hoping to really connect with people that want the privacy of being able to workout and get in the strength training, and the guidance, motivation, and further their activities and their goals," she said.

One such client is Ron Horn, who has been working with Pomerenke for about two years. He said he's lost 60 pounds since his start of training with Nicole.

"She's a very good trainer," Horn said. "If you have any questions she's very good about explaining things."

Pomerenke is tapping into a portion of the population that lacks the confidence of working out at a gym in front of many others or those who simply want to avoid large crowds. This private setting allows her to help them reach goals with only her helpful assistance at their side.

"I know how it feels to not want to go there," Pomerenke said, recalling a time when she was overweight and not feeling confident about going to any gym.

As much as she looks forward to the return of gyms full of people, she's now better prepared to stay in business during those times when a big sweaty group of people confined inside a building just isn't an option.

To find out more about her training options, visit her at makefitnessfun4you.com.