Philly Boutique Gyms Petition to Reopen in Yellow Phase

Personal training studios in Philly are urging Governor Wolf to separate them from big-box gyms in his phasing plan.

Several boutique fitness studios in Philly, including Warhorse Barbell Club, are petitioning Governor Wolf to recognize them as different from large corporate gyms in his reopening plan. / Photograph by Warhorse Barbell Club.

Even though Philadelphia moved into the yellow phase this past Friday, local fitness studios are still feeling defeated. Gyms, regardless of square footage and client capacity, are to remain closed in yellow.

But it’s not so much about having to wait until green that bothers a group of boutique gym owners who have recently banded together to enact change in Governor Wolf’s reopening plan. The gripe of the newly-formed PA Independent Training Facility Coalition is that their training facilities, many of which are between 3,500 and 6,000 square feet, are being treated the same as much larger gyms. The coalition was spearheaded by Chris Semick of Warhorse Barbell Club, and includes studios such as BPM Fitness, Subversus Fitness, CrossFit Novem, and The Wall Fitness, among others.

According to Semick, the group’s main intention is to bring attention to how vastly different the boutique fitness industry is from big-box gyms. Their petition urges Governor Wolf to create a classification for locally-owned personal training and small group fitness studios separate from large corporate gyms, primarily because the former is much more of a controlled environment than the turnstile nature of the latter.

The petition also lays out their intended safety protocols once operational, including:

  • Sessions capped at 10 people (including coach).
  • All staff must wear face masks and gloves at all times.
  • Equipment must not be shared during sessions, and will be sanitized [with medical-grade products] after each use.
  • Workout areas will be clearly marked, so proper social distancing standards may be observed.
  • Members, clients, and staff will be denied entry or sent home when showing signs of illness.


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Additionally, Semick told us that Warhorse will be conducting mandatory temperature checks and declarations of health upon entry. This, he says, is non-negotiable.

“I’d rather be safe than sorry and eliminate as many potential threats as possible, so that our members continue to trust putting their health and safety in our hands” he says. Shoshana Katz and Juliet Sabella, owners of BPM and The Wall, respectively, will be doing the same at their studios, as well as requiring sign-ups (aka no walk-ins) to allow for contact tracing.

While coalition members make clear they are not planning to open right away, they want to be able to open at some point prior to green. Katz says this would allow her to “finalize all preparations for reopening, to train staff in all of the safety protocols, and to make sure the studio is in tip-top shape for members and can run like a well-oiled machine when doors open.”

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