It’s a crisis for the fitness industry. But there are ways to support your favorite studio—and get a workout in the process.
Last week, Swerve Fitness CEO Eric Posner had to make what he calls one of the most difficult decisions of his life when he—along with the two other co-founders of the New York City-based spinning studio—closed the doors to all three of their gyms. Embracing the realities of the coronavirus crisis is hard for a lot of us, and it’s proved especially tough for the finance-guy-turned-entrepreneur and CEO of a small business, knowing that each day the studios are closed is a day of major financial loss.
“What’s happening in the world right now is hard to swallow. We did what we had to do to keep our team and community safe,” Posner says, “It chokes me up talking about it. It wasn’t something we anticipated happening so soon.”
Now, like many other leaders in the fitness industry, Posner’s trying to figure out how to make ends meet for an uncertain amount of time and limit the damage to his business, all while encouraging their community of riders and staff through the crisis.
“We’re going through the numbers and doing everything we can to call all of our vendors, partners, banks, literally everyone and see what sort of relief we can get,” he says. “Some conversations have gone well, and others we’re still having.”
Joey Gonzalez, CEO of the much larger Barry’s, can relate to Posner. “It was the hardest decision of my life to close before any national mandate was in place, especially when thousands of our customers were begging us to stay open for as long as was allowed,” he said. “In 21 years of business, the company hasn’t closed our doors—not for even one day.”
Despite shutting down their brick and mortar locations, Gonzalez—like many other fitness professionals—is committed to keeping in close contact with his clientele during this difficult time. Streaming workouts are popping up on every possible platform: Instagram, Zoom, Skype, Facebook, you name it.
“I led an Instagram Live workout this morning and felt a total goober doing it,” Sam Tooley, a gym owner and run coach from New Jersey says. “Usually I feed so much off of the energy from my clients or people in the class, and it’s so different when it’s just you alone in your space. But I know it’s doing good. We have to keep moving.”
It’s not just the studios that are struggling to stay afloat at this time; their employees are toughing it out, too. For many trainers who rely on regular classes to pay their bills, this is uncharted territory.
“The idea that our main stream of income came to a complete halt is—like many other individuals in other fields — is an unfathomable reality to accept,” says Ash Wilking, a Nike trainer and Rumbleinstructor. Wilking is posting daily workouts on her Instagram feed for free—but she’s asking followers to make a donation to the Food Bank for New York City.
As for independent trainers, gyms closing across the country and orders for quarantine mean that IRL sessions are a thing of the past. “Not being able to go and train my clients in person and use the equipment at the gym is definitely challenging,” says Lacee Lazoff, New York City-based trainer and kettlebell expert, who says she expects to be set back at least eight months by the crisis.
“I have to reevaluate the programming for my online clients who now have limited resources,” she says. “Still, I think it’s a wake up call for how big of a role technology will play going forward. I believe in in-person connection, but there’s a lot that we can learn from this situation to come out better on the other side.”
If any fitness company has been prepared for a moment like this, it’s Peloton. Now with more than 2 million members worldwide, the digital fitness goliath was set to open their new flagship in New York on March 19. While it will be entirely closed to the public until further notice, they are still streaming workouts from the new space and the company is now offering a free 90-day trial to their app. It includes yoga, HIIT, stretching, and strength workouts, which means you don’t need one of their $2,245 bikes or $4,295 treadmills to take advantage of it.
Like virtually all in-person businesses—from restaurants to movie theaters to retail—it’s a terrifying time to work in fitness. In the meantime, we are all going to have to try to navigate at-home workouts without pissing off our neighbor—or even brave running outdoors.
Looking to get in on the streaming? Here are some links to what some of our favorite small studios are doing—many of which are extending their “free trial” phase.
If You’re Looking for a HIIT/Bootcamp Class …
Offering free Instagram live workouts, check out an Aarmy “practice” (as co-founder Akin Akman refers to them) from wherever you are—just be prepared to work, hard. If you happen to have your own stationary bike, they’ve got you covered there, too, with at-home cycle classes streaming from their New York City studio.
Founded by Revenge Body trainer Luke Milton, you’ll love this Aussie-lead HIIT class packed with good vibes. With on-demand classes available now and live streaming starting next week, all workouts can be done with “your own body resistance and household items.” Bring on the soup cans and water jugs.
If You Want to Get Flowing …
Cost: Suggested donation
Looking for a yoga practice that’s a little outside-the-box? Then check out the blend of styles from New York City-based Sky Ting Yoga, founded by Krissy Jones and Chloe Kernaghan. The duo are offering livestream classes daily. If you want even more Ting, you can jump on board their $20 monthly subscription service Sky Ting TV.
This is the kind of Zoom call that has nothing to do with work (thank goodness). Sign up for the nightly streamed workout at 5 p.m., and enjoy an athletic, heart-pumping power yoga led by founder Bethany Lyons.
If You Want to Bother Your Neighbors …
This next-level dance cardio workout, with locations in New York, Boston, Washington D.C., and Los Angeles, typically comes with a live D.J. and a whole lot of cheering mid-twerk. Bring the enthusiasm home with their free daily YouTube live workouts.
Cost: Free 14-day trial, $40/month
There is something magical about what fitness guru Taryn Toomey has build with her plyometrics meets calisthenics method. Offering digital streaming, this 60-minute workout will give you all the feels to a soundtrack of Mumford & Sons, Florence + the Machine, and other makes-you-wanna-jump-around hitters.
If You Want to Hit Something …
Founded by Goerge Foreman III, this boxing-based studio is bringing their signature style into your living room with bodyweight, core, and yoga workouts all done on Instagram live.
No equipment, no problem. A boutique boxing and tread concept known for their party-like atmosphere, Rumble’s trainers are bringing the fun into your living room with daily Instagram live bodyweight and cardio workouts.
If You’re a Runner …
Cost: Suggested donation
While they aren’t narrating your outdoor runs Peloton style, the coaches from this New York City-born running studio are giving you the stuff you likelyneed to focus more on: strengthening, stretching, and other bodyweight goodness.