BEMIDJI -- You could say Brandon Erickson had a pretty good first year as owner of Snap Fitness in Bemidji, in spite of a pandemic that shut down the facility for three months.

After working there for almost a decade, the 31-year-old Erickson purchased the business in April 2019 with partner Brian Winter. One year later, it has been honored with the Transformation Award from Snap Fitness corporate. The award recognizes a facility that has remodeled, upgraded equipment and gained membership and revenue from the previous year. It was announced during a virtual worldwide convention last month.

In addition, Erickson received a runner-up award for the corporation’s Rookie of the Year honor.

“It was really cool to see my hard work paying off,” Erickson said after learning of the awards. “I was super excited. We put a lot into the business.”

Erickson grew up in Bagley. After high school he went to school in Iowa to become a personal trainer, then enrolled at Bemidji State University, earning a degree in exercise science and psychology. He began working at Snap Fitness while in college in 2010.

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The current Snap facility, located at 3835 Superior Court NW, was built along with Choice Therapy in 2012. When Erickson and Winter became owners last year, they felt it was time for some updates.

“We’ve already bought a ton of new stuff, new equipment,” Erickson said. “I’m kind of a freak, I make sure nothing is ever broken. If there’s a pulley that needs replacing I order it right away. I just can’t stand things being out of order. I can fix most things myself. My family has always been into cars, dirt bikes and 4-wheelers. Ever since I started working here, anything that breaks I try to tear apart and fix.”

One thing he couldn’t fix was the shutdown. From March 16 through June 10, Snap Fitness was closed as the coronavirus pandemic struck. That shutdown gave Erickson time to oversee a deep cleaning and some additional touch ups to the facility.

The reopening “was kind of shocking,” he said. “It was one of our best Junes we’ve ever had, and we were only open for part of the month. It was awesome to see everyone excited to get back out and socialize at the gym. We had a lot of people coming back excited to get back into it.”

He said some of the nearly 1,000 members have not returned, primarily older people who are being extra careful.

“The biggest hit we’ve taken is probably the older folks who don’t really trust everything yet,” Erickson said. “We’re pretty strict on all the cleaning. It’s super clean, super safe. The only thing that scares them is other people coming in if they have (COVID-19). It’s tough to be in a crowd, more than anything.”

In addition to running the business, cleaning and making sure the equipment is in good shape, Erickson continues to do personal training with around 20 clients each week. That’s how he started in the business. He said while he appreciates being recognized by corporate for the facility’s success, he most enjoys meeting and working with members.

“I’ve always wanted to do this,” he said.