October 13, 2020 By iwano@_84 Off

Gyms are open, but NYC’s still killing the independent-fitness-studio industry

Mr. Mayor, let’s get this straight: Indoor dining, indoor swimming, facials and gym workouts all got the green light to reopen, but ­Pilates, yoga and high-intensity interval-training classes remain a no-go?

How does Gotham’s healthiest industry remain shut down, months after the pandemic peaked? Our industry’s mission is to keep New Yorkers healthy through these crazy times, and we, of all businesses, are shuttered and forgotten about.

It’s baffling.

We are racking up rent bills from months spent waiting for our turn to open, with exactly zero revenue coming in. And now it isn’t clear whether that turn will come in this calendar year or the next.

Restaurants’ struggles have been front-page news for months, schools are finally open and Broadway is getting its bailout. But since we lack the size, organization and lobbyists, we aren’t getting any attention from you or your administration. What do we need to do to get a chance at survival?

There are more than 7,000 boutique fitness studios in the Big Apple that employ more than 100,000 taxpaying New Yorkers. Well, actually, we should say that there were 7,000 studios pre-pandemic — now it’s more like 6,000, and if we can’t open up in the next month, it will be more like 5,000.

An industry that was born in 2006 in New York City is now at risk of dying in 2020 on your watch. All you have to do to save the industry is let us open up with the same guidelines as our gym friends. You have deemed them fit to open, and we are just as safe.

Today, someone can go to a gym and run on a treadmill six feet away from the next runner. But the moment an instructor enters the picture, that same activity is illegal.

Again, baffling and bizarre. Since when is fitness at the gym any safer than fitness classes? There is absolutely zero evidence of group fitness being any more of a risk than gym fitness.

We can and would require masks and social distance. We would limit equipment sharing. We would implement contact tracing and upgrade our air filters to ensure our staff and clients are safe. Please, give us a chance to show you — and a fighting chance to survive this pandemic.

You claim to be a champion of small businesses, women and minorities — and guess what? We are all of those things. Many of us founders of firms are women, and a majority of our staff and clientele are also women.

In fact, 80 percent of the New Yorkers we serve are female. We employ diverse staff in our studios and our offices, and a majority of those folks are still unemployed. Why is it that male-friendly gym workouts can resume, but workouts with stronger female appeal are banned?

The longer we are shuttered, the harder it will be to bring back our out-of-work employees and our clients who’ve had to find an alternative way to stay fit — or, worse yet, are no longer fit. The longer we languish, the more debt we accrue.

We are hanging on for dear life to our locations in hope of reopening, but the prospects grow slimmer by the day.

We know you understand the value of a workout, given your famous two-hour-a-day gym ritual. The mental and physical benefits are many; exercise is preventative medicine after all.

We provide an invaluable wellness service to hardworking New Yorkers looking for a way to stay healthy and let off steam. Why should some New Yorkers be allowed to return to their workout routines while others can’t? Our clients can’t wait to get back to the studios, our staff is eager to get back to work and we have been patient for half a year.

As you think about the legacy you leave to this amazing city going through a serious rough patch right now, do you want to be known as the mayor who killed group fitness?

Amanda Freeman is founder and CEO of SLT, a Megaformer-based fitness studio. Kari Saitowitz is founder and CEO of Fhitting Room, a HIIT and strength-training boutique fitness studio.

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