Former KMart building will soon house gyms, preschool

By 
Hunter Herbaugh
Thursday, November 19, 2020
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The former KMart building will soon house gymnasiums focused on gymnastics, Taekwondo and general fitness, as well as a preschool.

A group of local entrepreneurs is coming together to help breathe life into one of the community’s largest abandoned buildings.

Makoshika Elite Gymnastics Academy, MEGA Minds Preschool, Makoshika Wellness and the Eastern Montana Martial Arts Academy will be working together to transform the former K-Mart building into a new community center.

“We are super excited,” Kathy Cross, co-owner of MEGA and MEGA Minds Preschool, said Monday.

The building is being leased by MEGA with the other organizations subletting their portions of the building.

According to Cross, MEGA has been searching for a new location since March after the gym they were operating in previously was shut down due to COVID. MEGA owns their gymnastic equipment, so all they needed was a new location to continue operations.

“(MEGA co-owner Tonya Schoepp) and I purchased the equipment and have been working at securing a place since. We tried originally at the old J&S Feed building, but the owner wanted way too much for it and some of the terms were impossible,” she said. “We decided on this location because we would be able to partner with other local businesses and offer a more diverse variety of activities for the community. There are so many needs here and we are working to fill as many as we can.”

According to Cross, the different groups will be coming together to make a space where people will be able to come and be active. They feel this is something the community has needed and are happy to get to provide that service.

Sara Plummer, chairwoman of Makoshika Wellness, noted that overall, she believes the community will benefit from having a central location for fitness.

“It’ll be huge for the community. With the extra space and things to do and the extra opportunities for physical activity, that all leads to better mental health and out here, especially in the winter, that is something we all really need,” she said.

Schoepp, agreed that having these services will be good for the mental health of local children in particular, as the services these groups offer will allow them to get much needed physical activity. However, having all the activities located together will come with additional benefits for parents as well.

“It’s definitely gonna help these kids’ mental health, getting out and being active, having things for them to do. It’s going to help the adults as well, having that Taekwondo, gymnastics and the fitness center. For that hour the kids are at the gymnastics, parents can go over and do some physical activities in the fitness center. Kind of a win-win for both groups,” Schoepp said.

There is also more room available for other enterprises to move in as well. In fact, all those involved in the initial move in are hoping that other organizations will eventually join them, making even more activities available under the one roof.

Cross and Schoepp even got more specific, saying they would like to see something like a batting cage get added so that athletes who enjoy outdoor sports can practice during the winter.

“If there was an indoor activity for, say, the baseball/softball, like batting cages, pitching cages, I think that would be a great asset to the community because then those kids would be able to practice those skills year round. I feel like, on our side of the state, we are at a disadvantage because these bigger towns do have those indoor facilities and I think that having this might help them be a bit more competitive. Even if we could somehow put half a basketball court in there could be a huge benefit for the kids,” Schoepp said.

For now, cleanup and move-in efforts are underway to prepare the building for its new occupants. According to Cross, they are aiming to be open by the start of 2021.

Reach Hunter Herbaugh at rrreporter@rangerreview.com.

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