New health guidelines for gyms in Colorado counties that fall into the “ Severe Risk ” level red category may be useful for big box athletic clubs, but they can deal a deadly blow to small boutique studios already teetering on the brink due to COVID 19 restrictions.
In a press conference on Tuesday, Governor Jared Polis said gyms in Level Red counties should reduce their occupancy to 10% of maximum capacity. Many were already barely sticking to the previous limit of 25%.
“It’s frustrating to feel that gyms and small boutique fitness studios seem like second thoughts during many of these press conferences,” said Kristen Baylis, owner of a Pure Barre studio in Lakewood. “Going to 10% will be extremely difficult for us. Since reopening in June, we’ve made a loss every month. In October, we lost $ 8,000 due to 25% capacity, and that was with full classes pending. “
For Baylis, 25% means 9-10 people in the studio at a time, and 10% of the capacity is only 3-4 people.
“The cost of operating right now is staggering and membership is declining as people face their own financial problems, health problems and virtual education,” Baylis said. “I’m not sure there is any point in even staying open.”
Jen Sevcik, owner of Duality Fitness in Denver, called Polis’ comments about gyms “very empty,” saying that owners of small boutiques and studios are now wondering if they can keep their doors open at 10%.
“We support our leaders and we understand the numbers are up,” said Sevcik. “We check them every day. We want to be part of the solution and the positive trend, but we also remain very committed to the fact that our facilities provide a solution and are not part of the mental and physical well-being problem during a pandemic.
“With all the steps we’ve had to take to stay safe and healthy, and all the screenings, we haven’t had any disease transmission,” Sevcik said. “We have not had any outbreaks. We operate under a very safe scope since we were allowed to open. So 10% for us might as well close our doors. It would cost us more wages than we would bring in. “
Several gym operators formed it Colorado Fitness Coalition in September to advocate for the industry with government officials. JoAnna Masloski serves on the coalition’s advisory board and chief operating officer of the Colorado Athletic Club, which has seven Front Range facilities. The parent company owns gyms in six other states. She is grateful that the state is leaving gyms open, even if the number remains limited.
“We are very grateful that the governor, his team, the counties, the health departments have been so willing to balance the science, the data and the critical importance of physical and mental health,” said Masloski. ‘We don’t have that in all our states. Whatever it is, capacity or reservations or other things that need to be done, we are a safe company. We can do the things that most industries cannot.
“I think they recognize, ‘Hey, we want to help companies stay open,’” said Masloski. “We are just grateful that they continue to work with us. We are willing to work within reasonable, sustainable business on whatever we can do to continue to serve Colorado. “
During the press conference, Polis made a passing comment that implied gyms could be included when the upcoming special session of the legislature deals with financial aid to restaurants, bars and other small businesses.
“I’m eagerly awaiting more details on that,” said Sevcik.
Some boutique owners say they don’t get as much attention from the state as restaurant owners.
“Restaurants can still arrange for takeout and delivery,” said Baylis. “While gyms can offer their classes virtually, it is difficult to maintain the price we need to pay our overheads for a virtual offering when there are many free and very cheap virtual offers available from companies with much lower overheads and- mortar location, which involves high rent and labor costs. “
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