PALMDALE – State guidelines for the reopening of gyms and other fitness operations that have been shuttered due to the coronavirus pandemic could be released “within a week or so,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said Wednesday, noting the need to address the diverse types of businesses within the industry.
Speaking during an online video-conference with fitness-industry leaders across the state, Newsom said reopening guidelines will be released in the “very near future.”
“I don’t want to say next week, but within a week or so we believe we’ll be in a position to make public the guidelines in your sector,” Newsom said. “But one thing we also recognize is your sector is multifaceted, and we don’t want to be naive and just put out something that’s bland and that doesn’t meet your unique criteria and your unique considerations, and also look at this from a regional perspective as we do everything.”
During the conference, the fitness leaders described the devastating impacts the shutdowns have had on their businesses, and the way they have tried to quickly pivot to offer online training and other services, with varied success.
Francesca Schuler, CEO of In-Shape Health Clubs, which has about 60 locations around the state, including Palmdale, said her company was forced to lay off more than 3,000 people, a move she called “heartbreaking.” She said the fitness industry as a whole went from a thriving sector “with lots of growth, to overnight zero revenue.”
But she said the company was “100% aligned with closing the doors. It was absolutely the right thing to do.”
“But when you go to zero revenue, you have to make tough decisions with people,” she said.
She said when people think of gyms they often think of bodybuilders or triathletes, but the facilities also serve customers with underlying health conditions or who are just trying to stay healthy. She said the industry is really “in preventative health care.”
Jocelyn Ramirez, an instructor at People’s Yoga in Los Angeles, said when the shutdown occurred, the company had to “pivot overnight to become an online-based business with a series of online classes.”
She said the company has actually been able to maintain the same number of classes online as it offered in person, but said, “You’re literally creating a new business from the ground up.”