ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — As COVID-19 cases reach record-setting numbers in Orange County and across Florida, state leaders are scaling back reopening efforts. But these latest changes and potential for closures are making many local business owners, especially gyms, uneasy.
Smaller class sizes make up the workouts inside CrossFit Winter Garden since the state OK’d opening up facilities.
Workers have stepped up cleaning routines to protect against coronavirus. But they still worry case numbers could force gyms to shut down once again.
“Yeah, I mean shutting my doors is never good. You shut your doors, you lose members,” said Lee Lovette, owner of CrossFit Winter Garden. “If the governor does decide that, the county, the city, the state decide that, then it’s for the best. It’s for our health."
The pandemic already forced them to relocate once after loss of income made rent payments more unsteady.
“The first of the month rolled around, we said, ‘Listen, here’s what we’ve lost, here’s the money we’ve lost,’ and they said, ‘All right.’ Send half the rent and at the end of the month, send the other half. We said great, we’ll do it, and we sent the first half the rent. They turned around and gave us a three-day notice to evict the next day,” Lovette said.
Members are returning strong, maxing out class sizes as they come work off coronavirus-related stress.
But for newer gyms like Bam Barre in Maitland, the pandemic has made things tough. The initial closures in the spring cut deep.
Now, class sizes are smaller to allow for social distancing in the lobby and the studio. And gym workers have stepped up cleaning routines to make members feel comfortable working out safely.
But still, the pandemic is making it hard for this 1-year-old business to survive.
“Luckily, the landlords here have been very accommodating. We’ve been very lucky in that respect that we have very understanding people here, and thank God for that, or I don’t know if we’d still be standing,” said Christy Noone, owner at Bam Barre.
As case numbers climb to concerning levels, Noone worries gyms like hers could be next. For now, she’s hoping they can stay open safely to weather this constantly changing pandemic.
“I’m just taking it day-by-day, and I’m going to keep fighting — hopefully we can survive,” Noone said. “But I’m prepared to hear that we may have to close again, and in that case, we’ll just do what it takes to help our clients out.”
She added, “Maybe we’ll have more virtual classes available, outdoor classes available — whatever it takes to keep everybody moving and keep our business alive."
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