The day after a driver crashed a pickup truck into the front of a newly opened gym in St. Petersburg, FL, the gym owners still managed to open for a 6 a.m. kickboxing class the next day.
Co-owner Pete Davidsmeier says he didn't let the accident get in the way of serving his members.
"There is a very close family of people who train here," says Davidsmeier, who opened Combat Performance and Fitness just one week ago with his girlfriend, Marissa Baker. "I wouldn't allow us to lose any business, and I wanted to open in any capacity that I could. He may have taken out about half of our lobby, but since it's such a big facility, we were able to function by patching it up."
The 6,000-square-foot club, which had been Elite Fitness for 12 years, shares a parking lot and shopping center with a bar. At 3 a.m. on Sunday, one of the bar's patrons allegedly drove a pickup into the lobby of the gym. The driver has been charged with driving under the influence. The truck demolished three 6-foot by 12-foot glass windows, the framework for the storefront and the front kiosk. Although the truck spared the front door and the computers, the glass from the shattered windows spilled into the nearby fitness room.
"Glass was everywhere," Davidsmeier says. "We cleaned up the glass for hours with push brooms, and we're going to have to replace a lot of the carpets and mats because glass is still embedded in them."
Davidsmeier received a call early Sunday morning from the police and from the former gym owners informing him about the incident.
"We jumped into the car a little after 3:30 a.m. and drove straight there," he says. "I was in complete shock at first because we had only been open for a week. I then got into survival mode and tried to think things through as logically as possible."
After he arrived at the club, he called Paul Davis Restoration, which built a solid plywood wall to cover the broken windows. The club staff and six members then worked together to clean up from 3:30 a.m. until 10 p.m. on Sunday. Other members called the club to volunteer their assistance.
"The same people who were helping to clean up glass the night before were right back at it the next day to train," he says.
Insurance adjusters have not determined the amount of damage to the facility, which features a cage room with a wrestling mat and fitness rooms, and offers kids' karate classes during the day as well as jujitsu, personal training and kickboxing.
"I'm just glad it happened when no one was here, and that he ran into my center instead of killing someone out on the road," Davidsmeier says. "He may have beat up the front of my gym, but at least no one got hurt, not even him."