Fitness industry changes due to pandemic

Upbeat music plays, an instructor demonstrates an exercise, and a small group of people are spread apart in an outdoor facility lifting weights and talking to each other from a safe distance.

Although today’s gym experience is different than it has been in the past, many owners of fitness centers in Thousand Oaks have adjusted their rules to stay safe during the pandemic. This includes new guidelines with capacity and sanitization. 

Being in a global pandemic has caused major changes for nearly every country in the world. Many industries have struggled immensely, with a major one being the fitness business. This industry has faced many challenges throughout this time, with protocol changing constantly.

“Each person has their own space,” said Anthony Parisi, owner of Fit Body Boot Camp, a gym in Westlake Village, for over four years. Gyms across the country have been limited to half capacity, along with still having to follow social distancing guidelines. Another new rule is people cannot work out inside.

To solve this, Fit Body Boot Camp has set up an outdoor canopy in which clients can take classes and use equipment. Also, equipment such as treadmills and weights need to be fully sanitized by the coaches before being used again. This allows people to continue using gym equipment and stay safe while doing so.

“We’re respecting everyone’s space and comfort levels,” said Erin Crispino, a former student at WHS and a current instructor at City Row, another fitness center in Thousand Oaks. “It’s important for all studios, gyms and trainers to have protocol that their clients and members know.” 

When gyms and fitness centers establish protocol and routines for their members to follow, everyone grows more comfortable. With people scared about the virus and its consequences, having everyone on the same page is essential. When these rules are established, people can continue to work out while still staying safe during the pandemic.

“Inside or outside, make sure to keep moving,” said Daniel Peterson, owner of Vici Performance in Thousand Oaks. Although gyms require members to stay outside when attending classes and workouts, Peterson suggested that at home, people can do virtual workouts both inside or outside.

People in this industry, both workers and clients, have adapted alongside technology. Virtual workouts over YouTube and Zoom have become wildly popular, and more people have been working out in the comfort of their own homes because of the pandemic. However, some are used to old athletic schedules and want to maintain the same regimen.

“Gyms and training spots closing restricted me,” said London Gamble ‘22. “But as things open I’ve been starting the same routines.”

Trying to maintain a daily schedule while still social distancing and staying healthy has been a good strategy for many workers in this industry as well as student athletes. For others, getting rid of their gym membership to move entirely to virtual workouts was the right solution.

“We lost 60 members,” said Parisi. “For a small business, that was really really hard.” Having had 205 members previously, this was quite a blow to the gym. 

Many other gyms have faced the same problem, with clients leaving due to payment issues or concerns with staying safe during the pandemic. Among the people still working out in person, this has resulted in discouragement as people have not seen many of their friends they are used to working out with.

“[Our goal has been] to stay positive and be creative [with] solutions to stay open,” said Parisi. While dealing with constantly changing the protocol, staying positive is the most efficient way to make progress and maintain a stable amount of members.

Despite having to adapt to coming to gyms during this time, athletes have learned to change with the times and make the most of the situation.

“The [fitness] game has definitely changed from here on out,” said Peterson. Vici Performance has a large garage opening that allows members to work out outside. The business is appointment only, which allows a safe amount of people to be there.

With everything going on in the world right now, businesses in the fitness industry have been trying their best to provide a safe environment for people to work out.

“My advice is to take everything negative from this battle and use it as fuel to be better,” said Gamble. “I [tell myself] to keep pushing and it’ll all work itself out in the end.”

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