Gyms across the state were told Monday that they would be forced to temporarily close their doors. Unlike restaurants and bars, which still had the option of takeout or delivery, these fitness studios had no back-up.
But many are still finding ways to serve their members through the use of social media and the internet.
Underground Training in Southold is hosting Skype and Zoom classes for its private clients. Owner Katie Peters also sent out Instagram workouts to her members.
“My first thought was ‘What can I do to get people a workout as fast as possible?’ because I had a really committed 5:30 a.m. crowd everyday,” she said. “Those are the people that are not only part of my gym-family, but that’s how I make a living.”
Paige Romanowski, owner of BodyRite Training in Jamesport, said 90 percent of her business is people physically coming in.
“That’s 90% of our revenue, that’s not happening anymore,” she said.
The gym does have plans to offer virtual workouts for members and extend expiration dates “so no one has fear of losing whatever purchases they’ve made.” Stroller Strong Mamas will also stream workouts for free.
“The money is not what’s important to me at the moment,” owner Rachel Goodale said. “I just want everyone to feel like we’re not in complete isolation and that we can still kind of come together. Everyone has been so supportive of my classes, so this is my way of giving back.”
“We’re just sort of inviting anybody, but really trying to be very strict about the whole social distancing,” owner Sarah Sirico said. “We know there’s a lot of people who are just stuck and feel bored, and everybody has to do what they can to stay sane right now and keep the stress and anxiety down.”
To control the number of people that attend these classes, Sirico posts the time, but not the location to their Facebook page, asking those interested to message them to RSVP for the location.
Aura Yoga Fitness Studio in Mattituck will stream videos on their website for the same rate and will offer a buy one get one half off for gift certificates.
“We’re encouraging people to get out in the fresh air and for everyone to find a little bit of a home practice even if it’s just for a minute,” owner Colleen McCaffery said.
Despite all the digital options many of the North Fork gyms and studios are choosing to offer, the virtual classes won’t be enough to sustain their businesses for much longer.
“As far as being able to pay my rent, two weeks is going to max me out if I have to operate like this,” Peters said. “At the end of the day, I’d rather my business tank than be part of the problem. But at the same time, this is all I have.”
The possibility of future memberships being canceled could also have lasting effects, Sirico said.
“I’m sure that there are a lot of members who are taking a financial hit and they might, at some point, discontinue their membership, even when this is over,” she said. “It might not be in the budget anymore.”
“We will try to do whatever we can, for as long as we can,” she continued. “We are just trying to be really smart and budget ourselves.”