Member Lisa Fortunado works out by herself at Crossfit 196 in Lewiston. Rachel Nutting photo

Rachel Nutting and Andrea Keneborus are health club owners who are taking prudent measures for their clients’ safety as well a s adhering to Gov. Janet Mills’ strict guidelines for remaining open during the coronavirus outbreak.

Some gyms and health clubs have closed, but Nutting and Kenebrous are keeping their facilities open for their clientele as well as paying their employees.

A notice is posted on the doors of Planet Fitness in Auburn. The gym temporarily closed March 17 due to the coronavirus outbreak. Tony Blasi/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

In an email to the Sun Journal, Mills’ press secretary, Lindsay Crete, said: “In order to protect the health of Maine people and mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in Maine, the governor has recommended the closure of non-essential, public-facing businesses, including fitness centers. 

“However, if they opt not to close, her executive order does prohibit the gathering of 10 people or more at fitness centers. This mandate is consistent with the latest guidance from the U.S. CDC. She did not take these steps lightly, and she understands that these actions will impact businesses and people across the state, but COVID-19 continues to spread across Maine and she believes more aggressive action was required to mitigate that spread.”

Nutting, owner of Crossfit 196 in Lewiston, said she has made it a priority to serve her community, but she is apprehensive as the virus gains a foothold in Maine.

“We are still the ones that have to work and we are stressed out beyond belief,” Nutting said. “I am sure we will be closed like everybody else before too long. Who knows? We will have to see what happens.”


Planet Fitness and the YMCA of Auburn-Lewiston have closed their doors and will reopen at a later date.

“We normally kept our classes to 12 people,” Nutting said. “We don’t have to change too much in order to keep things down.

“Right now, we haven’t changed anything, but our classes are smaller just by default. There are a number of people who are choosing not to come, like this morning at 6 a.m., I had two people, and I expect to see like an average of two to four people in classes.”

Nutting is turning to the internet to provide online classes to those clients who choose not come to the facility.

“There is a 20-day online program that I shared with my clients that we are kind of doing at home together,” she said.  “The biggest thing is I am very conflicted. I feel like it is socially responsible to close, but at the same time most of my clients, and when I say most all of them, are of the demographic that are not high risk themselves.

“Most of them are also healthcare workers, EMTs. … I feel like I just want to give them the option.”


Nutting has taken steps insure her customers’ safety.

Planet Fitness temporarily closed its doors March 17 due to the coronavirus outbreak. Tony Blasi/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

“So what we are doing is when you walk in the door, you go wash your hands first thing,” she said. “Luckily, I stocked up on a lot of cleaning supplies. So we are just taking extra precautions. Day by day, it is going to change. We are small group, anyway, so we are just keeping communication flowing. The biggest thing for me is I am here to serve my community.”

“But, who knows? We have to roll with it and see what happens.”


Andrea Keneborus, owner of the The Gym in Lewiston, said her health club will keep its doors open until she is ordered to close it down.

“We are taking necessary precautions,’ Keneborus said. “We are sanitizing and bleaching every piece of equipment, basically on the hour.”


“We are limiting our number of people. We don’t have more than 10 people in the gym at one time. If it comes down to it, we will try to do a Google sign-up and have members sign up every hour-and-a-half. We have to keep it compliant to 10 people.”

Keneborus said equipment is constantly sanitized and members are required to wash their hands before beginning their workouts.

“I’ve asked all of my members, if they are even remotely not feeling well at all, they are not allowed in,” said Keneborus, who also coaches the Leavitt Area High School cheerleading team. “We are trying to make our necessary precautions, but trying to keep my staff with a paycheck coming in, too. I mean they are all worried about that.

“I also own cheerleading facility, Element All-Stars. We are temporarily closed. We have moved to a virtual team practice for all of our athletes. They have canceled competition up until May, and I had teams practicing until July. This is happening nationwide so … I am going to keep it as business as usual.”

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: