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Gym owner transforms business after coronavirus shutdown

Portland native Sam Johnson had more than 100 members at his StrengthFarm gym. Now, he'll do one-on-one training sessions instead of group classes.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Five years ago, Portland native Sam Johnson opened the StrengthFarm gym.

“I think StrengthFarm is built on physical fitness. Something we all need. We welcome anybody” said Johnson.

The gym was in a 3,000 square-foot facility in Southeast Portland and held individual workouts and group classes. When the coronavirus hit, and gyms had to shut down temporarily, Johnson applied for a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan. He was denied. That’s when he realized would have to transform his business.

“I needed to downsize, become more robust and more flexible. Even when you open up there’s not a guarantee you'll have the same clients,” said Johnson, who graduated from Lincoln High School and then served in the Air Force.

He closed his original location and moved to a space he shares with Portland City Boxing Gym in Southeast Portland where he began personal training. He’s also working with a company to develop a personal training app called SFX Athletes. It will target young athletes and should go online in September.

Johnson says what he's learned from running his own business and being in the military is that you must be resilient and flexible.  He's using those qualities to reinvent his business. You can learn more about StrengthFarm here.

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