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Westminster Strength & Conditioning holding outdoor classes for gym members

Beau Bryant set up each of the nine stations for his 4 p.m. Wednesday class at Westminster Strength & Conditioning gym on John Street.

Bryant finished carrying the weightlifting bars to each area just before the first member arrived. Class was about to begin, but Bryant and his lifters weren’t working out indoors. Westminster Strength & Conditioning is in its second week of hosting outdoor classes, in line with Maryland ending its stay-at-home order, and Bryant said the coronavirus pandemic hasn’t kept his members from wanting to return to their private training facility.

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“Exercise is pretty connected to mental health,” said Bryant, who spent several years as a strength coach in the military and opened Westminster Strength & Conditioning in 2010. “People that barbell train, they can’t just go out and run. The people that do this are really training a little differently. We have some of the strongest people in the country, strongest people in the world right here.”

Bryant said his gym consists of anywhere from 125-175 members during the year. Restrictions were eased last week around the state, and Bryant said he paid attention to Gov. Larry Hogan’s updates. Bryant said he noticed the phrase “outdoor fitness instruction,” and decided it made sense to hold classes in a section of the parking lot just outside the gym.

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After talking with his wife Angie, a physician assistant who also teaches sports nutrition and strength training at McDaniel College, Bryant said he vetted his plan with Westminster’s Common Council and its police department, and he keeps his classes running in compliance with Centers for Disease Control guidelines.

Each class is less than 10 people, Bryant said, and equipment gets sanitized before and after each session. Bryant said he cleans the equipment and lets it sit overnight inside the gym.

Members can come to classes one a three-days-a-week rotation, much like what Rich Burnette does when he makes the trip to Westminster from his Littlestown, Pennsylvania home. Burnette showed up a little early for the Wednesday class, which was set to last the usual 90 minutes.

Burnette, 51, said he started coming to Bryant’s facility in 2013, when he decided it was time to make lifestyle changes. Burnette said years ago his father, because of diabetes, had a leg amputated, and needed the use a wheelchair at Burnette’s wedding. He recognized only one of his four grandchildren, Burnette said.

Burnette said he decided that wasn’t going to happen with him.

Westminster Strength & Conditioning owner Beau Bryant, left, coaches Madison Weller, 15, as she works out on exercise equipment set up outside to accomodate excercise classes that conform to CDC rules in Westminster Wednesday, May 20, 2020.
Westminster Strength & Conditioning owner Beau Bryant, left, coaches Madison Weller, 15, as she works out on exercise equipment set up outside to accomodate excercise classes that conform to CDC rules in Westminster Wednesday, May 20, 2020.(Dylan Slagle / Carroll County Times)

“The year my father turned 50, he had his leg amputated. The year that I turned 50, I deadlifted 500 pounds,” Burnette said. “My quality of life is so much better than it would have been had I not started here, and that’s really what it’s all about.”

Bryant said any thoughts of whether people would balk at attending outdoor workouts vanished last week when he posted sign-up dates for the first round of classes and they filled quickly.

“People were ready,” he said. “People are making their own good decisions. They were already strong before this happened. Some of these people are the strongest people you’ll ever see.”

Westminster Strength & Conditioning’s building features 6,800 square feet, Bryant said, and when regular classes can resume members will be back to their routines with ample space. Bryant lent his equipment, he said, to any members who wanted to take it home with them when they couldn’t use the facility during the pandemic.

Bryant said he hopes the outdoor workouts help people stay in shape until they can get back to normal.

“This is our second week, so people are starting to get their weight back,” he said. “Hopefully when this opens back up they’ll have their strength back, and they will just roll right back into it.”

That’s what Burnette is hoping, too.

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“I didn’t have a place at home that I can train with the equipment,” he said. “So as soon as the opportunity came to do it, and do it in a responsible manner, I jumped at it.”

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