LI Gym Owner Believes Gyms Should Reopen Under Phase 4

Priscila Korb

BOHEMIA, NY — A Bohemia gym owner says he should be allowed to open his business after Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that gyms may not open in phase 4 recently. On Monday, Cuomo announced that western New York will begin the fourth phase of reopening businesses this week, but Long Island remains in phase 3 since last week.

Under phase 3, indoor restaurant service, nail salons and massage therapists could resume under health guidelines. There is still no word on when Long Island will enter phase 4.

Tristan Phillips, the owner of Primal Revival, says that when he learned that gyms were not going to reopen under phase 4, he was disappointed and frustrated.

"This whole situation has been hard on everyone," he told Patch. "It has been an unprecedented situation, and I can’t imagine what it must have been like to have to make such large decisions with such little data."

He also says that he disagrees with classifying his smaller gym, which is a 2,500 square-foot facility, in the same category as a large commercial gym. Phillips says his gym focuses on small group training, personal training, and autism fitness and that classes typically range from only one to eight people.

"We don’t have machines, or treadmills, public showers, lockers, or air conditioning issues to contend with. We are a movement focused facility that teaches our members how to restore their ability to move and get strong though strength training," he said. "We also don’t have members working out without oversight, we supervise and guide every element of their session. So it is very easy for us to provide a safe training environment that respects social distancing, open air, and cleaning restrictions that would keep our members safe."

Before hearing the news that gyms may not open in phase 4, Phillips says he already started to prepare to reopen in early July, in the hopes his business will get cleared for opening. The benches at the gym will be more than six feet apart from each other with markings on the floor to make sure they remain that way.

Photo courtesy of Tristan Phillips

They will also be limiting class sizes to four to six people, and adjust their programming in a way that would guarantee that no one would be trading equipment. For example, Phillips said clients will be able to take one kettlebell to use if for class, but then must wipe it down, and put it back before someone else could use it. He also plans on having additional hand sanitizer stations for members to use and we will be cleaning between every session.

Now after hearing that he might not be able to reopen his business, he is concerned over paying his bills. He says that despite being closed, his rent is still due and he has retained 100 percent of the bills, but lost about 70 percent of income.

"We have done our best to service our members online, and more recently at the park with social distanced outdoor workouts. And while those are better than nothing, they are inferior to the service we are able to provide within our facility, and less dependable as weather can shut that our park training in a moments notice," Phillips said. "Plus, we are paying rent on four walls and roof that we use. How long do we have to keep throwing money away, without being able to generate the revenue we know we can? As a business that is still relatively new this has been quite a difficult hurdle, and we continue to seek out grants and other financial funding support to keep us viable."

He said that the situation has been "frustrating," especially as other businesses are opening up.

"People are back to getting drunk and eating unhealthy food in public, but they can’t go to the gym and get a workout. I want to be clear, I’m not criticizing everything being shut down. What our country needs right now is to put more energy into their immune system," he said. "Alcohol and processed food creates a weaker immune system, intelligent training creates a stronger one and a healthy diet creates a stronger one. So what we do as trainers is help our members become more resilient to every potential ailment."

Phillips said that his gym is prepared to follow any health guidelines to prevent the spread of coronavirus, but that he isn't being given the chance to do that. He believes that gyms, especially small, boutique gyms like Primal Revival, being closed is a mistake.

"Yes, there might have to be some changes, but if people can be eating dinner 6 feet from other strangers, and wait staff going from table to table, there is no logical reason that a boutique training facility like Primal Revival shouldn’t be open as well," he said. "I feel terrible for all of those who have died, or lost loved ones. This has been a terrible experience for everyone. But we need to start talking about how we can help our country become more resilient so this doesn’t happen again. And exercise, health, and fitness is an essential part of that conversation and process."

What do you think? Should gyms be allowed to reopen under phase 4? Let us know in the comments below.

This article originally appeared on the Sayville-Bayport Patch