The South Florida fitness scene is starting to open back up, and the results are … positive with a splash of hope. Before we dive in to the now, let’s set the table.
After 78 days of closure, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez announced on June 4th that gyms in the county could resume operations starting June 8th, while adhering to certain levels of guidelines and restrictions. That announcement came over a week after Broward gyms and fitness centers were given permission to resume business on May 26th.
Throughout quarantine, we heard firsthand from gym owners like Jessica Bergman of Downtown Strength and Conditioning, share stories of pivoting business models that resulted in success.
“We were thriving in this online environment although it wasn’t anything we ever thought about or even knew would be to do,” wrote Bergman in a May article here on STAY FIT 305. “We learned how to coach to remote athletes of every level, we learned about how to be better trainers, deliver cues, and “coach” people who weren’t physically next to us.”
But as Gimenez spoke the words all gym owners were waiting to hear, a question popped into everyone’s mind – would guests and members return? Bergman and other owners knew changes needed to be made to accommodate the guidelines but to adapt to the behavior changes that were undoubtedly coming.
“First, we had decided to add classes almost every hour of the day,” said Bergman. “As soon as our morning class schedule went off successfully on Day 1, and the new program format worked, we realized this was going to be OK.”
That sentiment is shared amongst many gym owners and operators throughout Miami-Dade and Broward county.
“While legally we can only operate at half capacity, the love and support to get back into the studio have been 100%,” said Aurea Dempsey, Director of Marketing and Operations at SOL Yoga. “We had no idea how people would react and if they changed behaviors. Your living room is never going to replace human connection with others. Our new clients and returning members have been very patient – classes are selling out and selling out quickly.”
Patience is a common theme gym owners have noticed in their returning members and guests. In the current coronavirus climate, patience seems to be lacking, but not when it comes to the gym.
“Everyone has been kind, patient, and caring and it has made the class experience wonderful,” said Adam Becker, Co-Owner of Society Fitness in Brickell.
Francine Acevedo-McCaughan, Owner of Code of Life on Key Biscayne shared similar thoughts, “We had to move the machines around in the studio in order to achieve six feet social distancing, and the clients actually really love it and say it looks even better than we had it before. Clients seem open-minded and amenable to all our new normal guidelines. Quite frankly, I think they are very appreciative that we are taking this seriously.”
So, as members and guests continue to make the decision best for them on whether to return to the gym or not, owners are remaining positive and hopeful.
“We hope to continue to see our gym and our industry recover and remember that even when the world outside our walls may be in a bit of a strange place; we are still the happy place for many of us,” said Bergman.