Carrie Shaffer 0

Pilates and Boutique Fitness Studios Must Re-open in Phase 2

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I am writing to you to advocate for boutique Pilates Studios and other boutique fitness studios to be allowed to reopen as quickly as possible in the New York Forward plan. I have been taking Pilates regularly and it has improved my life and health. My local Pilates studio is a popular studio in my neighborhood in New York. The owners have shared their reopening plans and I am writing to ask for your help reopening their studios in Phase 2 or at the latest in Phase 3 of the NY Forward reopening plans. They are being improperly and over-broadly categorized with gyms and that will prevent them from opening until Phase 4, even though their businesses and facilities are very different. I would appreciate your advocacy to allow them to open.

Here is why they are different:

Most boutique fitness studios are between 500-2000 square feet. They are appointment only businesses, train one-on-one with clients and will ensure social distancing by limiting class sizes to 50%. They are happy to have reopening policies in place that will adhere to NYS and CDC requirements. That includes sanitize the space/equipment after each class/training session; require masks and gloves (as per guidance); trainers will not offer “touch” corrections; will do temperature checks at the door; maintain at least 6ft distance by a fitness trainer and his/her clients; and will have supplies of masks, PPE, hand sanitizer etc. All of these would take place in addition to intensive and frequent cleaning measures exceeding those recommended by the CDC. This is all completely manageable based upon the size of the facilities and low density of clients.

To be clear, unlike large gyms and fitness centers with whom small boutiques have been categorized, boutique fitness studios have a typical capacity of 1-8 people. Clients only participate in guided classes (up to 8-1 ratios) and are seen 1-1 (Trainer-client) as normal practice. Clients attend pre-scheduled sessions limited to this capacity. At no point are clients admitted to classes as walk-Ins, a physical appointment must be scheduled 12-24 hours in advance of their session. Furthermore, many clients require their fitness/pilates sessions to maintain good physical wellbeing. The Pilates/fitness industry has, and always will be committed to the health and wellbeing of all others.

Unfortunately, this improper classification with gyms will needlessly hamper boutique fitness studios into what looks like Phase 4 of the reopening plans. They will be forced to needlessly remain closed when other small businesses with small footprints can open under smart operating conditions that sufficiently mitigate the risk of spreading the virus. Their position is that they have a much lower client density and risk profile than a barber or a dine-in restaurant, Other administrations are allowing Pilates and other small boutique studios to open. e.g. Santa Clara categorizes these types of facilities under low-contact / no-contact businesses.

What help we want:

My specific ask for you is that that you exclude boutique fitness studios and micro-gyms from the definition of “Gyms” or “fitness centers,” and create independent directives applicable for the reduced footprint of the unique business models used by boutique fitness studios and micro-gyms. We respectfully request that Governor Cuomo open us along side other non-essential businesses in Phase 2, or at the latest in Phase 3.

Thank you so much for your consideration of this request. I truly appreciate any support you can provide.

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