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Gym owners want personal training to begin in phase 2: ‘We would be profitable again’

CrossFit Syracuse Facebook

Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon said the central New York region is ready for a phase two reopening on Friday, which will include professional services, hair stylists and more retail. But New York state has not yet put out guidance on what phase two looks like, although that should be coming soon. 

The lack of guidance is creating problems with business owners in other industries, who think they should be allowed to reopen. Gyms are considered one of the last businesses that could reopen. But small gym owners in central New York are hoping they can begin personal training in phase two. Ellen Goldberg is the co-owner of CrossFit Syracuse. Since they closed in mid-March, they’ve been operating at a loss for the first time since opening in 2012. About one-third of their revenue comes from in-person, personal training. 

“If we could get that revenue back up to full speed, ASAP, we would be profitable again," Goldberg said. "We would be in good shape.”

Goldberg has been in talks with the Onondaga County Economic Development Office and wrote a proposal on why a small boutique fitness studio like hers should be considered for phase two. But while county officials have been advocating to the state for personal training and other services to open in phase two, the county can’t give gyms the green light before the state releases a complete list of businesses that can reopen.

“The biggest frustration has just been the lack of knowing where to look for information, knowing if there is a proper channel to submit questions or requests," Goldberg said. "There just seems to be such a disorganization. Anytime we’ve reached out to the county executive or the economic development office, they’re just as lost as we are. That’s a little disheartening and unsettling.”

Randy Sabourin, the owner of Metro Fitness in Syracuse and Fayetteville, has also been petitioning county officials to allow them to begin personal training. He said personal training is how he got started 25 years ago and is the lifeblood of his health club. He had to lay off all of his personal trainers when the gyms closed and he’d like to start bringing them back.  

“We’re talking about a really small community of clients that want to be healthy," Sabourin said. "One of the leading problems with COVID is obesity and poor health. We need our community to exercise and reduce their risk for not just COVID, but a variety of health-related diseases.”  

Sabourin also wrote up a business reopening safety plan, which includes temperature checks, disinfecting equipment, masks for the staff, and a limit of three personal trainers and three clients. As more phases open up, he said gyms members will have to schedule independent workout times through an app, to control capacity.

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.