Fitness Studio Owner Worries Gyms Might Close Next if COVID-19 Cases Don't Flatten

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As Texas heads into the holiday weekend with soaring coronavirus cases, business owners are bracing for whatever lies ahead, and doing what they can to stay afloat.

At Beyond Studios in Dallas, machines and other equipment are wiped down between each class. And the fitness center is operating at just 50% capacity. Owner Rumer Richardson said she’s doing what she can to keep her staff and clients safe.

“We would have 12 reformers in a class, and about 70% of our classes were at that capacity. Now we’re at about six reformers,” said Richardson.

She said the cleaning is top priority right now.

“We’re wearing masks and gloves between classes so we can wipe down every piece of equipment just to make sure we’re getting all high touch surfaces,” she said.

She’s doing her part but can’t help but wonder if it will be enough. Cases in Texas have spiked. Dallas and Tarrant Counties have broken single-day records this week. And a holiday weekend is upon us. Governor Greg Abbott ordered bars to close… and said people ignoring best practices could lead to more action. Richardson worries gyms could be next.

“I understand why we would be high up on that list when you lump us all together,” she said. “That is the hard part where a small studio can truly ensure in your class time, because we don’t have open gym and all that, that you are the only one using your equipment.”

Then there’s the economic impact. Richardson said she will not survive another shutdown.

“Unless there was rent abatement and loan relief for the loan that we took out when we purchased the business, not based on the sales we have coming in,” she said. “We’re doing well for being at 50% capacity. We’re about half of what we were doing last year. But that’s not enough to pay the rent, pay the bills long term. It’s just, it’s not.”

She’s encouraging others to abide by recommended best practices, especially if it means keeping hers and other businesses open. 

“If it can decrease the risk of transmission enough that we can all stay open, wear your masks when you go inside. Stay out of large groups. And just be smart and listen,” she said.

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins has asked Abbott to temporarily close businesses where masks cannot be worn 100% of the time. Jenkins said that would include places like cigar bars and high impact fitness facilities.

*Map locations are approximate, central locations for the city and are not meant to indicate where actual infected people live.

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