CASA GRANDE -- Nikolina Sabo is a recreation coordinator. She oversees activities and classes at the Casa Grande Community Recreation Center.
At the moment, there are no classes. No cycle spinning. No yoga. No senior fit. No weight training.
The center closed to the public the evening of March 16, a Monday. And hasn’t opened since. It’s a matter of public health. Coronavirus has led to the closure of any place people might gather.
The country has become one big ghost town.
I spoke to Sabo by phone the day after the rec center closed. The day a column of mine ran. It was a fun piece about a senior citizen trying his luck at a cycle spin class, at that very rec center. I wrote about all the activities offered at the center, including classes for seniors.
My timing wasn’t the best.
But the city opted to follow the federal 10-person rule. No more than 10 to a gathering. On any given day, the rec center is usually humming with people, working out and getting fit.
Now there’s just staff, appropriately spread out.
“With the Boys and Girls Club, there’s 10 of us,” Sabo said.
The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Casa Grande Valley organization shares the building with the rec center.
Most rec center members got the word. Still, a handful of people showed up, including one senior.
“She said she called yesterday, before we made a decision to close,” Sabo said. “She was very understanding — better to be safe than sorry later.”
Plans are afoot for an online workout, Sabo added. One possibility — a digital version of Group Power, a licensed exercise regimen offered at the rec center.
For now, Sabo uses the downtime to give the gym equipment a deep cleaning. After hours, she faces the same scramble for basics as the rest of us.
Her Walmart experience was a case in point.
Sabo picked up just what she needed. Others had crammed their carts with multiples of canned goods and, of course, toilet paper. One woman approached her. She had four large packages of toilet paper and cartons of bottled water.
She offered Sabo a deal. Her water for Sabo’s one and only pack of toilet paper. Sabo declined the offer. She’s not on board with hoarding.
“No one is going to stop making toilet paper, you know,” Sabo told me. “Be humane, share.”
In her office, things are much quieter. She looks out on a now-empty gym. There’s no set date for when the center might reopen.
“Just until further notice,” she said. Until then, she’ll catch up on cleaning the equipment and taking in some fresh air.
“If the weather is nice, you go outside for a walk,” she said.
Krissa Myers might go out biking with her family. She taught the cycling spin class that I took a few Fridays ago. She’ll have company on her rides. Her two teenage daughters are home from school.
Last week, March 16-20, they had spring break. This week, schools are closed for coronavirus. In normal times, Myers would spend part of her day at the gym. She teaches spinning and fitness classes at the city rec center, Esporta (formerly LA Fitness) and 247 Fitness.
Now, like the schools, they’re closed.
If Myers doesn’t spin, she doesn’t get paid. But the money’s a small part of it. She loves leading fitness classes. I can attest to that. She has plenty to do, in any case. She manages the office for K&M Roofing, a business she co-owns with her husband, Kyle.
Her daughters are missing more than just school. The virus shut down after-school activities.
Savannah, 15, goes to Casa Grande Union High School. McKenzie, 13, goes to Villago Middle School. Savannah takes cheerleading with Revolution Cheer Company. It’s competitive, or it was.
“They were supposed to have a competition in Anaheim this weekend,” Myers said. “They canceled that and actually suspended competitions for this season.”
McKenzie wrestles for Villago, one of three girls on the team. The wrestling season ended early. She’s also in the school band. No word on that, as of last week. I joked band members could keep a social distance on the playing field.
Not all that funny. There’s only so much humor in a pandemic.
Myers, for her part, is all in with the closures, including the gyms. The virus, she pointed out, is highly contagious.
“It really should be about the health of the employees and the members,” she said.
Still, she’s eager to get back in the spin of things.
“That’s what I love to do.”
I had planned to end the column here, but I called Myers again. I asked about the roofing business. If anything’s changed.
“My husband and I were just talking about it last night,” Myers said. “We’ve probably had six or seven people cancel their roofing jobs.”
Coronavirus is suspected. People who have been laid off might think twice about repairs they can no longer afford.
K&M Roofing has 14 employees. One is already on leave.
“The kids are home, so he needed to stay home,” Myers said. She added: “I have a feeling this is going to affect everybody.”
In other words, we’re all in it together.