COVID-19 has been hard on small businesses. Many have had to close their doors, and others have had to work extremely hard to keep them open. One local business has taken this time to turn a terrible situation into a positive one. At Salem Gymnastics & Swim, they have used this time to reexamine their company and update their facility, policies, and procedures to open their doors better and safer than ever.
Salem Gymnastics was opened in 1980 by Frank and Barbara Minter. At that time, it was in a small building on the fairgrounds. Soon after opening, they moved to a newly constructed building near Hanes Mall, where they were located till 2001. During that time, the Minter’s daughter and son-in-law, Beth and Kenny Morphis, took over the day-to-day operations of this Mom and Pop company. In August of 2001, they moved to their current location, which is more than three times the size of their former building. Seeing the need for a swim school in the community, they added the pool and swim instruction in 2016. Over time, they’ve grown to fill their space, and have become a staple for families in the Triad. This year marks 40 years of serving this community, and they have served us well.
In March of this year, life changed for all of us, Salem Gymnastics & Swim included. Beth said, “At first, we thought we’d close for about a week or two and reevaluate. Once we realized this would be long-term, we decided we needed to figure out two things. One, how will we survive this? And two, how can we come out of this stronger and better?”
When it came to surviving the pandemic, they’ve been overwhelmed by the support of their community. “With ten full-time and dozens of part-time employees on the payroll, we immediately knew that our closure would affect not just us, but those who rely on us for their livelihood. Our customers came through, with over 200 families opting to continue paying tuition, even though our doors were closed. We were touched and humbled by this gesture and were determined to use these resources to better the company,” said Kenny. They were also able to secure a PPP loan, which helped them continue to pay core staff salaries and keep the building afloat. They have made repairs and physical improvements to the facility and implemented new safety measures like plexiglass shields, touchless faucets, and pit covers.
Next, they took the time to think about how they would come back stronger and better. Beth explained, “I never thought in our 40th year we’d be reopening as a new business, but that’s in essence what we have done. Over the last 40 years, we have grown a lot, but our business structure has not always grown with us. We used this time to step back and reexamine the entire company. We’ve updated policies and procedures, redefined our staff members’ roles, deep-cleaned and updated the facility, and, in the end, we really are a new company. We have the best staff in our history and are the best version of Salem Gymnastics & Swim ever.”
They also took this time to retrain the staff, focusing on several areas. First, they’ve provided additional technical training for both swim and gymnastics instructors. This training has helped them become better teachers and will improve the outcome for their students. Next, they trained the staff on procedures and protocols as they relate to COVID-19. They learned valuable information about the virus and how to protect their students and themselves. They’ve also been trained on cleaning and mask policies. Workshops were held for the Leadership Team and a full day of team building occurred for the entire staff on what would have been Salem’s 40th annual Gold Medal Day. Says Kenny, “We’re very proud of the hard work our staff has put in over the past three months. We have seen them grow in their professionalism and commitment to the families we serve.”
If you have ever visited the facility before, you’ll notice the changes they have made as soon as you walk in their door. They’ve implemented lots of new things to help keep you and your children safe during the pandemic. The entire facility has been spaced for social distancing, and hand-sanitizing stations are plentiful. There’s a lobby greeter to welcome you upon entry and direct you to a safe space where you can watch your child’s class. The locker room has been closed, there are no cubbies or furniture in the lobby, and there’s one-way lobby traffic to prevent close contact with other families. You’ll be asked to wear a mask if you’re within 6 feet of anyone, but students won’t be wearing masks during class. Instead, swim instructors wear face shields to protect themselves and their students, and gymnastics classes are set up in stations, so students can remain socially distanced. Also, gymnastics classes will have students rotating stations and will hand-sanitize between rotations. Between each class, there are cleaning procedures the staff performs to sanitize high-touch areas. It’s more than apparent that they’re putting your family’s safety at the top of their priority list.
Salem Gymnastics & Swim is open and ready to help your child grow their skills in the gym or the pool today. They’re located at 4870 Country Club Rd in Winston-Salem. For more information or to enroll your child, please call 336.765.4668, or visit their website at salemgym.com.