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San Francisco Club Owners Fear Collapse Due to COVID

Andy Berg

Owners of boutique gyms and fitness centers took to a Small Business Commission meeting in San Francisco Monday night to voice their concerns over an uncertain future.

Members of the San Francisco Independent Fitness Studio Coalition pleaded with health officer Dr. Tomas Aragon for the right to open.

“It’s somewhat confusing to me as to why I can’t be 20 feet away from someone and instructing them how to do pushups while both of us where masks,” said Evan Mather, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. “At the same time, I can get in an Uber car, go to an airport, sit in the middle seat of a plane, fly to San Diego and go shopping for expensive jeans. It’s ridiculous.It doesn’t seem like science is dictating these decisions.”

Dave Karraker, co-owner of MX3 Fitness, reported that he has laid off 10 people and accrued debt in excess of $20,000 since March. Another club owner said she was forced to file for bankruptcy due to the 10-year lease she signed.

“I have no option, but to close permanently, unless I want to spend the rest of my life paying off debts I acquired in opening my business,” said Lisa Thomure, who opened a Pilates studio in January. “You are saying that our knowledge and understanding of this virus is evolving weekly, even daily. But your knowledge has not evolved, at all.” 

The meeting did not allow for comment from Aragon who was there only to take input from those in attendance.

“I’m not an expert on all of the various ways that people run businesses,” Aragon said before the meeting was officially called to order. “I just want to know ventilation, physical distancing, face-masking and core principles. At the health-officer level, we’re thinking: ‘What are some levers we can pull?’ We don’t want to get into the business of all of these individual capabilities. It puts us in a really difficult situation, because I can’t get give you a rational reason.”

The Fitness Studio Coalition represents more than 60 small studios that employ more than 700 people and provide health services to more than 22,000 residents. It estimates that its businesses are losing $9 million per month.

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