'Bachelorette' star Peter Kraus saved $200,000 to open his dream gym. Post-pandemic, he must 'start all over'

Peter Kraus.
Photo by Dawson Brauls

In April 2019, "Bachelorette" star Peter Kraus opened his gym, Peter Kraus Fitness (PK Fitness), in Madison, Wisconsin. Owning a gym had been a dream for Kraus, 34, since 2010, and he has been a personal trainer since 2009. But since his turn on the 2017 season of ABC's "The Bachelorette" catapulted him into the mainstream, interest in his training stretched far beyond the borders of Madison. 

To meet demand for his services and tap into new opportunities, Kraus toured the country doing bootcamps coast-to-coast. He was able to save up $200,000 to build and open the gym, and PK Fitness built up a membership of about 300 in its first year. Then the coronavirus pandemic hit, and the business came to a halt.

"I didn't expect to have my doors closed on my one-year anniversary," says Kraus. "I did not expect to go from like a steady increase of hours with classes to literally nothing, and now having to figure out ways to start all over again." 

Here's how Kraus has been able to keep his business afloat during quarantine. And as the state of Wisconsin slowly reopens, here's what he hopes the future holds.

The gym is 'a money pit right now'

As of May 2020, the state of Wisconsin has had more than 15,000 reported cases of Covid-19. When the state issued a stay-at-home order on March 25, all nonessential businesses, including PK Fitness, were closed.

The gym "is a money pit right now," he says.

Peter Kraus at Peter Kraus Fitness.
Photo by Dawson Brauls

PK Fitness' costs totaled about $14,000 per month, including salaries for a staff of part-time front desk workers, part-time trainers, rent, cable, electricity, and so on. The gym's revenue comes from people either taking one-time classes for $22 each or paying up to $170 per month for a year-long membership. 

When Wisconsin issued its stay-at-home order, both of the gym's revenue streams were disrupted. People could no longer take one-time classes, and many members opted either to freeze their memberships or to not renew when their first year was up. "There are people leaving a little more every day," says Kraus.

Virtual workouts help pay the bills

To offset losses, Kraus let go of his entire staff of front desk workers, who were all high school students, saving him about $2,000 per month.

He began streaming virtual workouts. For the price of $35, interested parties would get access to daily workouts from Kraus, with the help of several trainers (all of whom he paid), for 21 straight days. The 21-day series began on March 23, and the first series had 200 participants, the second about 120, and the third about 60. Despite the drop in participation, the income from virtual classes helped cover the costs of the business even while income from memberships and classes dropped.

Thanks to both of these strategies, the company was able to break even during the gym's two-month closure. 

Peter Kraus at Peter Kraus Fitness.
Photo by Dawson Brauls

Prepped for '2 years of no income'

Kraus has long prepared for a downturn on a personal level. He's never made money from the business himself, having banked on being able to go several years without getting paid. 

"I made sure to put away enough money to have two years of no income from the gym," he says. Kraus was able to save what he earned from cross-country bootcamps and Instagram sponsorships with companies like Michelob Ultra. "I just didn't realize that [I'd need to use it] now," he says, "and a pandemic would be the start of that."

His savings covers all of his monthly expenses, including rent, health and car insurance, groceries, and food for his dog, Daisy.

'Seems like people are eager to get back to the gym!'

As of May 26, Madison's Dane County is in Phase 1 of reopening its economy. PK Fitness opened back up the same day, and Kraus is seeing signs of life.

There was a "slow trickle of people" on that first day, he says, "so I'm hopeful that it will pick up again." After months of quarantine, "seems like people are eager to get back to the gym!"

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