Performance Health & Fitness in Peterborough will reopen next week for the first time since a devastating electrical fire in October.
Owner Hunter Burgess said the target date to reopen is Monday, Feb. 15, and as of Friday all signs pointed toward that next Monday date as the first time members will be able to use the Peterborough gym in more than four months.
On the night of Oct. 13, Burgess was alerted to a fire at his Route 202 South facility that resulted in a response from Peterborough Fire, as well as Jaffrey, Dublin, Hancock and Milford, and required Eversource to respond to cut power to the building.
It was determined that a fire began in the main electrical room on the first floor due to a faulty electrical panel. The electrical panel was a total loss and had to be replaced with an upgraded system, along with the wiring within 10 feet of the panel. An external panel was added, providing a main on/off switch for the building.
“But luckily the fire didn’t leave that room,” Burgess said, adding that the room’s walls are concrete, which kept the fire from spreading. But while there was not heavy fire damage, the smoke damage was extensive throughout the building.
Every single ceiling tile and all of the building’s insulation had to be replaced, while areas of sheetrock and flooring also had to be removed along with the fitness center’s two saunas.
“There was a lot of work that had to be done. It was really throughout the building,” Burgess said. “That’s why it took so long.”
The adjacent cardio area had a portion of its flooring removed and the entire two-story area had to be repainted, along with the hallway that leads to the locker rooms and the front entry way.
“It’s not the way I wanted to remodel,” Burgess said. “But now there’s a little bit of a freshened up look.”
Burgess said he didn’t know anything about cleaning up after a fire and expected it to only take a few weeks. But soon after the fire he was made aware of the extensive process that would need to be done.
“I couldn’t believe the amount of smoke remediation that had to happen,” he said. “It’s just amazing how much damage there was without much fire damage.”
Burgess said he is fortunate that his two insurance policies covered the damage, adding “that is why you pay the premiums.”
The cardio equipment and everything electrical in the building, including computers, speakers and the refrigerator were taken offsite and cleaned.
The fire was just another roadblock in what was a challenging 2020 for Burgess. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, he was forced to shut down from mid-March to June.
“It was tough going at first,” Burgess said, citing the fact that the business lost a number of members due to the pandemic. But on the day of the fire, they signed up a few new members leaving Burgess optimistic.
“It was finally starting, people were starting to come back,” he said.
In terms of new signups, Burgess said he typically sees a surge between October and December, when the weather gets a little colder, but being closed that entire time certainly added another significant challenge to getting business back on track. He said he froze membership dues during the closure.
“I really hope people will come back to the gym,” Burgess said. “And feel comfortable doing so.”
Burgess said he hopes that he didn’t lose members due to the shutdown.
“I’m sure that I’ve lost people, but hopefully when we reopen they come back,” he said.
While the building was unusable, Burgess moved his physical therapy operation to the Peterborough Shopping Plaza, where a few live classes were held. A few others were held online.
Upon reopening, Performance will be open Monday through Saturday with varying hours each day. There will also be a limited fitness class schedule. For up to date hours and schedule, visit https://perfhealth.com.
Burgess knows he’s not alone when it comes to hurdles presented due to the pandemic. He just hopes they’re all behind him now.
“It’s been a challenge,” Burgess said. “But a lot of small businesses are going through a lot of challenges.”