Relocating a business at any time can be stressful. Add in a pandemic and it really tests the limits.
That feeling is known all too well for Stawell's Elite Contender owner Damien Smith who closed his Crush Fitness site on Monday March 23 and was forced to wait three months to open at the new premises and under the new name.
His original plan was to set up his new gym at 2 Layzell Street in Stawell and open it on a Monday after closing Crush on a Sunday.
The coronavirus pandemic had other plans.
As the Victorian government placed stage three restrictions across the state, the forced closure hit hard.
"Once we got closed down there were certainly some questions in my mind. Do I take the risk and put everything into getting the new site finished not knowing how long the pandemic restrictions would go for?" Mr Smith said.
"In one sense the forced closure was a blessing in disguise as I had time to get here and get stuff done but on the other hand, I didn't have the turnover coming in on a weekly basis.
"It was definitely a huge risk to pack that gym up and if we couldn't afford to get this gym finished on time we wouldn't have a gym to open.
"Sometimes you have to take those risks in business and I'm glad this one has paid off."
Mr Smith said growing up in Stawell, for years has always thought the building on Layzell Street would be the perfect opportunity for a gym to drive people to Main Street.
"It really is a perfect position. People can walk to the Main Street and do some shopping after or before coming to the gym," he said.
"We've had a massive first few weeks. We've had some pretty good deals and it has really worked out for us.
"It's a fabulous feeling to be able to bring something to the community where I grew up and fill an empty shop.
"The new location opens up a whole new demographic for us. We've had some school students come in a sign up as well as those who might not have transport to get out to our old location on the highway."
Mr Smith said despite there still being some restrictions in place it doesn't impact his business too much.
"There are limits to the number of people we can have in the gym at any one time," he said.
"It doesn't really impact us in Stawell. A town of 6000 people and three 24/7 gyms to get 20 in the gym at one time would be a pretty busy time.
"It can happen when you have group fitness classes - but that can be managed by capping the classes and prioritising the times we run them.
"We haven't run some of our classes as yet so we can ease our way through the opening and the restrictions."
Mr Smith said there was a "positive" to come in with the restrictions.
"It's made people so much more aware of their own personal hygiene," he said.
"There is a bigger understanding from the public around sanitising. The other one is if you aren't feeling well you must stay at home. I think people are more aware of the importance of following the guidelines now, not just during a pandemic, but all of the time for the health of the community."
Mr Smith is also in the process of opening a new gym in Nhill and has his sights set on opening another gym in the Wimmera soon.
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