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Many Fitness Lab members continued paying their dues even though Bracken offered his online workouts for free. Now that they’re back in the gym, he’s making full use of the equipment people missed while working out at home. But all that equipment needs cleaning after every use — a practice that has significantly increased the cost of running a gym.
“It’s not cheap,” Bracken said of all the sanitary protocols. “And it will continue not to be cheap.”
Enhanced cleaning is a necessary expense — not just to reduce the risk of virus transmission, but to make exercisers feel safe in an indoor environment where everyone is breathing heavily. Bracken, Snively and Cumberbirch all have members who say they aren’t ready to return to the gym — a sentiment they say is more often expressed by older exercisers.
Cumberbirch said feedback from those who have returned to the gym has been largely positive, and that they are appreciative of all the extra hygiene and safety measures. Still, he admits putting extra distance between clients and trainers doesn’t come naturally, which can be stressful for both parties.
Bracken and Snively are still doing online workouts to accommodate those who prefer exercising at home. But Cumberbirch says his online community shrank to numbers that didn’t warrant continuing the sessions once the gym opened up.
“It doesn’t replace what you can do in a gym setting,” he said of home-based workouts.
Like many business owners, people in the fitness industry are faced with new challenges and new ways of doing business as we all slowly get used to living with the virus. Snively has sold half of his equipment, and not just to recoup some of his investment: with classes at half capacity for the foreseeable future, his full inventory wasn’t being used. Plus, he needed the extra space to spread everyone out. He’s also investing in a new website and camera equipment to facilitate a greater online presence. If clients aren’t comfortable coming to the gym, he plans on offering more workouts that can be done in the safety of their own home.