How Philly Fitness Studios Are Responding to Coronavirus
More publicizing of their intense cleaning practices, to start.
UPDATE: Since the time this article published, many studios have closed, limited the number of spots in each class, or moved their workouts online. Find a list of studios hosting online workouts here.
If you’re a frequent visitor of Philly fitness studios like us, then you have probably seen the deluge of emails from gyms hitting your inbox. Over past two weeks, pretty much every Philly-area fitness studio has blasted out emails detailing their already-rigorous cleaning processes and their action plans for maintaining a healthy, virus-free exercise space. These measures — ranging from adding more hand sanitizer dispensers to refraining from hands-on adjustments to encouraging anyone who doesn’t feel well to stay home — are significant in light of the city’s first case of coronavirus, which was reported by the Philadelphia Department of Health on Tuesday.
Right now, the biggest steps you can take to stay healthy are keeping your hands clean (and away from your face!), being mindful of what you’re touching, and avoiding large crowds. And, yes, those things become more difficult to do in a shared space full of sweaty bodies. But before you forgo your spin/yoga/barre/boxing/TRX/you-name-it class, we got the DL from studio owners (who love working out just as much as the rest of us!) on how they’re prepping their fitness studios, classes, and clients for a COVID-19 outbreak in Philly.
Philadelphia magazine: All these emails about health measures studios are taking and deep-cleaning they’re doing … shouldn’t studios already be doing these things? What’s the intention behind the emails?
Jamie Promislo, owner of Revel Ride: “These steps aren’t new, people are just simply paying more attention to them! The intention of these emails is to put our riders at ease — to let them know that we hear their concerns and that we’re monitoring our actions based on CDC and WHO updates. At Revel, we like to point to the fact that we always have and always will put the cleanliness of our studio and health of our riders first. We thoroughly disinfect our bikes and weights after every class, as well as all parts of the studio multiple times per day. As an extra step, we’re offering riders the option to wipe their bikes down themselves prior to class starting, if they want some extra peace of mind.”
Callie Kim, co-founder of Tuck Barre & Yoga: “We have not sent out an email because we want messages from medical experts at the CDC or elsewhere to ring loudest. Our clients know that we are hyper-vigilant about cleanliness already — all barres, props, and mats are thoroughly disinfected after each class. When we designed the studios, we didn’t install carpet to ensure we could disinfect floors, all of which are disinfected and bleached. The general rule of thumb for yoga studio spacing is to have a block’s width between participants, and we cap our classes to give way more than that amount of space. This cap ensures that everyone has an appropriate amount of space to move around and to decrease the risk of transmitting germs.”
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From a business perspective, how do you anticipate the coronavirus will impact fitness studios?
Dana Auriemma, owner of Freehouse Fitness: “At Freehouse we aren’t currently experiencing a decrease in attendance, but I expect fitness studios could see an attendance drop at some point as an overall reflection of people limiting their public exposure. Anecdotally, with some of our clients working from home recently, we are seeing them take more classes at different times of the day.”
Kim: “Some clients have already asked for their memberships to be put on hold (which we allow at all times, so not a big deal); however, we’ve actually seen an increase in class sign-ups. The vast majority of clients have repeatedly asked us to stay open and not cancel classes or shut down, as many of them are working remotely (either voluntarily or because of employer mandates). During this time, Tuck has become an outlet for stress-relief and rejuvenation.”
What do you wish members were doing differently as the coronavirus makes its way into Philly?
Juliet Sabella, owner of The Wall Fitness: “I’d like to meet the person who started the ‘sweat out the sickness’ idea and have a nice, long talk with them. ‘Sweating it out’ is not a real thing and does nothing but prolong illness and impact everyone else around you. If you do not feel well, stay home until you are symptom-free and have given it the appropriate amount of time to no longer be contagious. Also, as much as it is crushing us to not give you back a sweaty hug when your arms are wide open, please let’s express excitement and happiness with jazz hands or spirit fingers instead.”
Shoshana Katz, owner of BPM Fitness: “Please do not try to sweat it out. That’s not actually good for well, anyone, and if you are hell bent on it, do it in your own home. The age groups of people who tend to come to studios are younger (majority of the time, but I will say we have some bad-ass older clients who make my heart sing), and are super healthy and fit, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t people in their lives who are older, and/or immune compromised, etc. so it is really important to be considerate of everyone around you. Another thing, pitch in and help your studios out! If you see you leave a huge sweat angel behind, please grab a wipe and clean it up. Studios are working extra hard right now to remind you how hard they always work to keep you safe, so lending a hand only helps and we appreciate it.”
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Katie Costalas, co-founder of RippedPHL: “We’ve been encouraging our clients to be mindful of their own health practices. Though we use hospital-grade disinfectant, we’ve added individual wipes for clients to use before, during, and after class. You see someone sneeze on the treadmill during class? Grab a wipe and wipe down your space mid-class! Put dumbbells under your bench after class or away so our team can quickly disinfect them before the next class. You wouldn’t believe how much time it takes to clean up people’s dumbbells plus the other equipment after class, so tidying up your work space helps make our cleaning time as efficient as possible!”
How can individuals who are older (and recommended by the CDC to stay away from others), who are immunosuppressed or with underlying medical conditions, or who wish to avoid crowds of any size pursue fitness at home?
Kim: “We already have free barre and yoga workouts available on our YouTube channel. All of these classes can be done without a barre, so they’re a great at-home alternative!”
Hally Bayer, owner of Thrive Pilates: “The great thing about yoga and Pilates is that all you need to practice is you! Many of our students are familiar with the Pilates mat flow or the power yoga sequences and can practice these at home. I’ve started to consider building an online platform or a way to stream classes so that students can participate from home. This will take some work, but something that could be great not just for this particular time, but for anytime a student is traveling or can’t make it into the studio.”
Anything else you want fitness enthusiasts to know right now?
Promislo: “Listen to your body. If you aren’t feeling well, please don’t come. We’ll miss you, but prioritizing your health (and the health of those around you) is paramount.”