Only about a week after Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that “gyms are highly problematic” and brushed aside a lawsuit by gym owners demanding to reopen, on Monday he declared that gyms in New York City would be allowed to reopen between Aug. 24 and Sept. 2.
Regular gym-goers, however, need to accept the fact that this isn’t quite a return to the good old days, if you want to call February or early March the “old days.” Gyms will be limited to a third of their capacity, and like almost everywhere else, people would be required to wear masks at all times and adhere to social distancing rules. Owners must also assist the state with contact tracingefforts, and the city will need to inspect gyms before they open.
The somewhat surprising move by Cuomo comes after gym owners declared their desperation, and submitted their own plans to reopen. Gyms originally were supposed to reopen as part of Phase 4, but before this could happen, the governor changed his mind, at least partially due to rising COVID-19 levels in some Southern and Western states.
Brooklyn is full of gyms, from YMCAs like the Greenpoint Y and the Park Slope Y (Mayor Bill de Blasio’s favorite) to gyms known for bodybuilding such as Gold’s Gym, to neighborhood gyms such as the Eastern Athletic Club, to rock-climbing gyms like VITAL in Williamsburg to the world-famous Gleason’s boxing gym in DUMBO. And that doesn’t include dozens of yoga studios, karate studios and the like.
Famously, de Blasio was seen at the Park Slope YMCA moments before Cuomo announced the closure of gyms in March.
As the COVID-19 pandemic and the shutdown progressed, some gyms went outdoors. For example, BK Fit Studios, which has several locations in the borough, secured a dedicated outdoor space outfitted with a plethora of equipment ranging from barbells to pull-up bars to rowing machines, according to Business Insider.
Ife Obi, a trainer who owns her own boutique studio, also moved outdoors and meets clients at the Decatur Playground in Bed-Stuy as well as offering classes online and making videos available.
Some, however, haven’t been very lucky. Slope Fitness Co-Owner Michael Carlin, interviewed last month by NY1, said “the governor, who I respect, sucker-punched us.” Many owners said they have to pay rent and insurance bills but cannot collect dues from members. “We were forced to re-furlough our entire staff,” Michael Ganim of Harbor Fitness told NY1.–>
Bruce Silverglade, who owns DUMBO’s famed Gleason’s boxing gym, said the shutdown not only hurt him, it hurt aspiring boxers who train there. He said that fighters are “know they are not in condition and are not ready,” and have a disadvantage when they go up against boxers from other locations where gyms are allowed to operate.
Some gyms have, or will, close altogether. One of these is Richie’s Gym on Fourth Avenue in Sunset Park. On Sept. 12, they will close after 30 years in the area.