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Joplin Tornado Hits, Misses Fitness Clubs

The EF5 tornado that ripped through the Joplin, MO, area on Sunday killed dozens, destroyed several homes and buildings, and affected fitness clubs, too.

The manager of the Powerhouse Gym in Joplin sent a text message to company CEO Henry Dabish on Monday to let him know that she and her family were OK and to say a prayer for the city of Joplin. There has been no report of any damages to the club.

One source confirmed that Olympic Fitness Club in Joplin was destroyed. According to an account in the Columbia Missourian, a member who had been playing racquetball in the club on Sunday said the front doors to the club began to swing open, free weights started falling off shelves and machines tipped over. The member and five others huddled in the janitor’s closet while the tornado roared above them.

“The place we were in was concrete, so nothing caved in on us,” Travis Kunce told the newspaper. Kunce and the others spent five minutes in the closet. “Once we went toward the front of the building where the front desk was, it was all caved in. We couldn’t make it out that way.”

The group broke a window and climbed through to exit what was left of the building, according to the Missourian. The owner of the club could not be reached, and no one answered the club’s telephone on Monday.

A spokesperson for Curves, which has two clubs in the Joplin area, said the company’s regional director spoke Monday morning to the owner, who said one of her clubs was OK and had power but that she could not get to the other club.

A person at Millennium Tennis and Fitness Club said Monday that that club had no damage and was open for business, although no members had yet to come to the club that day.

Christa Tullis, owner of Yin Pilates and Yoga Studio in downtown Joplin, said her studio was not affected by the tornado. Neither was Rhino Fitness Center, according to owner Kevin Rhinehart.

“The storms missed us by about a mile,” Rhinehart said in an email. “You simply cannot imagine the devastation here. Nuclear war couldn’t be much worse.”

None of the three YMCA facilities in Joplin were damaged by the tornado, according to a spokesperson from the YMCA of the USA. A mobile emergency room unit has been set up at one of the Joplin Ys to treat minor injuries and dispense medication, according to local media reports.

Missouri Southern State University in Joplin is housing tornado survivors in an American Red Cross shelter at one of its athletic facilities.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the death toll from the Joplin tornado was 116, making it the deadliest tornado in the United States in almost 60 years.

Two people died and dozens were injured as a result of another tornado on Sunday in Minneapolis. Spokespeople from Life Time Fitness, Anytime Fitness and Snap Fitness, which all have headquarters in the Twin Cities, said none of their clubs were affected by that tornado.

(Senior Associate Editor Lara Hale contributed to this report.)

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