Staying active amid an ongoing pandemic has been a huge challenge for some, but for those who run various fitness centers in the Monadnock area, a whole host of new barriers have stretched them thin.
Last summer, local gyms and yoga studios were able to conduct personal activities again, which helped these companies to become more dynamic. But as winter approached – and the second wave of the pandemic hit our area – attending gyms and yoga studios fell by the wayside.
Keene, New Hampshire
Such was the case with Ryann Singleton, owner of Personal Fitness & Cycling Studio Form 603 in Keene, New Hampshire, who recently saw a slowdown. Singleton said people have started to freeze their membership in the past few months as they become more cautious in the face of rising COVID-19 cases. With these freeze requests, Singleton is finding it increasingly difficult to run their business.
“It lowers our incomes significantly,” says Singleton. “We’ve already worked on a limited, slower operation at the same cost and now it’s slowing down further, which is obviously challenging as a company, but we’re working to survive the best we can. ”
Those who end up freezing their membership will still have access to workouts, Singleton explains. Members have access to a library of workouts developed on the first shutdown in the spring. Singleton also offers its members the option to take equipment home to exercise and exercise.
When Singleton reopened after it closed in early 2020, their facility opened with limited capacity – meaning there are more classes with fewer people each to allow for more space. In addition to leaving more time between scheduling courses, keeping people apart, and restricting occupancy, people now wear masks as an extra precautionary measure the entire time they are in the studio. Singleton also got creative when it came to working on the Spinbikes by installing innovative bubble barriers that wrap around the entire bike. These individual bubbles are created by hanging shower curtains from the ceiling, creating a “bubble” for added security.
While Singleton works to continue providing people with an opportunity to exercise, Carla Grant is also doing everything possible to keep the business up and running during these challenging times. Grant is the owner of Supreme Fitness in Brattleboro, Vermont. She has seen fewer people, especially those over 60. She did some online courses for this older group. When she reopened the facility, she resumed zooming and opening the classroom to some people.
“If we [re]Opened in June, a couple of people came back and they were slowly coming back, but now with that [pandemic] Spike, people are disappearing, ”says Grant.
Supreme Fitness used to have spin classes, and Grant recently rented out all of the bikes, so now people can do it from the comfort of their homes. Supreme Fitness not only offers these online opportunities and rents bikes, but has stepped up its cleaning game as well. Grant says people who work out at their fitness center also walk around with their own spray bottles and cleaning wipes so they can wipe things down before and after they touch equipment.
While people are still using their facility, the numbers are much lower than they were last year.
“Probably a year ago we saw more than 140 or 150 people in a day, and now we’re probably half of them,” Grant says.
Supreme Fitness now sees 60 or 70 people in a day. Grant says this includes in person and online combined. Like many other business owners, she is waiting for the COVID-19 vaccine. She also hopes that Supreme Fitness can hold out for as long as possible. Meanwhile, funding has helped her business get through.
“What helped us is the scholarship,” says Grant, adding that she has received both government and government assistance. “That’s the only reason we’re still here.”
Grant explains that her company has used PPP. In this way, she was able to hire her staff again when she reopened in June 2020. She says without that money she wouldn’t have been able to get people back on hiring, adding that the Vermont state has gotten away with grant support one of which is waiting to hear.
Without the grant and the PPP, Grant says it wouldn’t be open and that the business wouldn’t have gotten this far, citing there aren’t enough members to keep the place going.
“As soon as the money is gone, we’re gone,” says Grant.
Regarding whether or not she needs more of that type of funding, Grant says it will depend on how long the pandemic has lasted and whether her members feel safe training with others. It will all depend on timing and how long Supreme Fitness can hold out.
“We’re not alone,” says Grant. “I know the other shops, the other gyms that I know in town, feel the same way.”
Peterborough, New Hampshire
Cassandra Sullivan is also adapting her yoga business to the ever-changing circumstances caused by the pandemic. She is the owner of Healing Yoga NH in Peterborough, New Hampshire, where she works in a variety of ways. Sullivan says she works mostly with individual clients and small group classes, which usually only consist of four people, for individual focus and attention. She has also taught larger group classes of up to 18 people in a different room in downtown Peterborough.
“All of this stopped in March,” says Sullivan. “All of the personal stuff got stopped, of course, and I switched to online pretty quickly.”
It took her about two weeks to figure out the online logistics and get up and running. Sullivan had previously used Zoom for some of her private clients who weren’t always around, so she went on and then brought her group classes online. During the summer she began teaching in person. Sullivan also ran outdoor classes at a local downtown park that lasted almost through October. But now things have slowed down. Their personal classes have been reduced to just six students instead of 12-18 students to allow a little more than a meter of space between the mats on all sides. Now that cases are on the rise, she has made up her mind to wind things up again.
Sullivan was confident that she did everything she could to keep people as safe as possible, such as face masks and social distancing. The larger studio room she operated from also got an air purifier, and she says the windows were open to get more airflow. Even so, Sullivan decided not to continue the group class in person just to see how things play out.
“I still see some residential customers, one-on-one calls, but those are just a few existing customers at this point, and everything else just went back to Zoom land,” says Sullivan.
With the exception of these few private one-on-one sessions, everything is now online. Still, some of Sullivan’s students do not have reliable internet service where they live. Hence, when the internet is interrupted, interrupted, or delayed, taking a video course isn’t a great experience for them. In addition, Sullivan explains that there are also people who do not want to have anything to do with online yoga. Instead, they are only interested in in-person courses. Also, online classes aren’t that attractive to those new to yoga. While she once offered services in a variety of ways, online, outdoors, and in the studio, after the surge in COVID-19 cases, Sullivan has been taking some sort of pause and thinking about what she is comfortable with.
“Although I feel like it’s safe, I just thought that it might be a good time for me to take a little break from personal matters and not have that stress on my shoulders if something should happen or someone should get sick, “says Sullivan.
As for the benefits of yoga during these troubled times, Sullivan believes that there are many benefits to just moving the body, adding that, given the ongoing anxiety we are all likely to experience, yoga is also beneficial for downregulation through the breathing exercises and meditation and mindfulness.
“It’s definitely a beneficial practice,” says Sullivan. “It’s always like that, but when we’re going through something like this, it’s so necessary right now to have something to anchor and ground you a bit.”
These articles are shared by partners in The Granite State News Collaborative. More information is available at kollaborativeh.org