News 12 employees

March 7, 2021 at 6:10 p.m. EST

Updated on:March 7, 2021 at 6:10 p.m. EST

Dozens of small fitness center owners across the city are urging the mayor to allow indoor fitness classes to return.

While gyms with limited capacity are allowed to reopen, indoor fitness classes like yoga or Zumba are still not allowed.

Small fitness center owners say the restrictions are keeping them from getting the revenue they need to stay open.

Michael Carlin is the owner of Slope Fitness in Park Slope. He is one of nearly 80 small fitness center owners who have signed a letter asking Mayor Bill de Blasio to run indoor fitness, yoga and Pilates studios with a capacity of 25% indoors.

“More than half of my members have canceled their gym membership. We have lost more than half of the income we generated,” says Carlin.

Carlin said his gym is offering fitness classes with safety measures to help curb the spread of COVID-19. He says gym membership has dropped dramatically and he hopes to allow fitness classes soon to keep his business alive.

“We can have someone run on a treadmill and sweat and breathe through a mask, but the idea that we can’t have a simple class like Pilates or stretching or tai chi is confusing,” he says.

For autistic fitness trainer Matthew Alexander, fitness classes are essential for the community with special needs.

“Home fitness is not enough. I need that in the personal-social component,” he says. “I’ve found, and my colleagues have found, that people who are on the spectrum regress from sitting on an iPad because they don’t have that personal social component.”

The mayor and health officials said in a recent press conference that they are cautious about allowing indoor fitness classes because it is difficult for attendees to store their masks or the masks could get damp, making them less effective.

Carlin says he doesn’t see this as a problem as safety guidelines are enforced at his gym.

Charlie Cassara, president of the US Fitness Coalition, says if the mayor doesn’t allow indoor fitness classes anytime soon, legal action could be taken.

“I hope he opens up to us before the lawsuit has to be heard,” he says. “We hope that we can give these gyms, these gyms, yoga studios and Pilates studios a chance to fight.”