MUKWONAGO — As businesses begin to reopen under new guidelines or wait for the Safer at Home order to be lifted, one small Mukwonago business announced they are permanently closing their doors because of the pandemic.
Bear It All Fitness in downtown Mukwonago, which offered a variety of barre classes and hybrid workout classes, announced its closing on Facebook mid-April.
The fairly new business opened December 9, 2019, and closed not even two months later, on March 14, 2020 because of the coronavirus with free classes temporarily offered online.
The business was owned by Ashlee Rybak and her husband John Rybak.
Ashlee Rybak said closing ultimately came down to bad timing.
“We had a lot of interest and a growing community from as far as Milwaukee and Delafield, with many classes having to waitlist because they were getting so popular,” she said.
Rybak said despite this, she decided to close the store March 14 because she noticed schools were closing and thought it would benefit her in the long run. When Safer at Home was issued, she then learned there would be no business at all.
“I started doing free fitness classes from the studio on YouTube, Facebook Live and Zoom to keep my community together and keep their fitness up during an uncertain time, hoping it would be a few weeks only,” Rybak said.
Rybak said she tried applying for some government assistance, but because she was so new and had such little revenue, she didn’t receive any help. She also decided not to apply for loans because of her projections about the pandemic’s lingering effects.
“I was so uncertain,” she said. “I put so much into starting this business — capital, time, energy and passion. However, my instincts told me that not only would this not be blowing over anytime soon, but that when it did my business would continue to suffer. We market group fitness classes, but we sell community. If people are afraid to be by other people we wouldn’t be able to make any revenue from our classes.”
Rybak said while closing her business is disappointing, the community has been very uplifting.
“At first it was emotionally overwhelming how many people offered to donate money to keep us afloat, who said we created their “happy place” and who were just really upset to see us go,” Rybak said. “When we held our closing sale so many (members) of our community came out to help us clear out and to say goodbye.”
Rybak said she is unsure of what her future holds, as she has three children that she may end up homeschooling if schools do not reopen in the fall.
As for other local business owners, Rybak said she appreciates what they offer the community and continues to support them in any way she can.
“We are purchasing teacher appreciation gifts from local businesses, have gotten take out from them, went to local greenhouses for our plants and garden and bought gift cards for future enjoyment,” she said. “I will continue to encourage others to do the same.”
Rybak said she wanted to thank the Mukwonago Chamber of Commerce, H2C Commercial Real Estate and all the members of the studio that supported the belief in their vision for Bear It All Fitness.
Rybak said she is hosting free Zoom backyard barre at 9:15 a.m. every Saturday and encourages people in the community to join her by checking the Bear It All Fitness Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/bearitallwi.