Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Gyms rebound; people ‘cooped up for so long’

By Zander Frost, Chronicle Staff Writer

We checked in with a few local gyms to see how things are going.

“We’re actually busy. The numbers are up actually now than they were from last year, because people were so cooped up for so long,” said Israel Deltoro, who owns two gyms on Glen Street, ADK Fit and ADK Crossfit.

“Fitness is a huge part of keeping people healthy and keeping people sane,” he said.

“The pandemic brought a lot of depression on people. It brought a lot of weight gain on people. It made people more unhealthy. If you coop them up in the house their immune systems aren’t going to get better.

“I just think for mental and physical, it just did a lot of bad. And that’s why everyone’s so eager now to work out and why we have so many members coming back.”

Tara Silzer, who owns FitCity in Mount Royal Plaza, also has a thriving gym.

She says membership has nearly doubled from pre-pandemic levels, from 480 to 956.

“COVID was rough, not going to lie,” Ms. Silzer told The Chronicle. “Nobody knew what was going to happen. And funds are low. And you don’t have nearly the money coming in…so it was a little hard.”

During the height of the pandemic she said she loaned out equipment and offered live classes on Facebook. In July 2020 she returned with outdoor classes.

Ms. Silzer said getting back to a routine was a priority for her community.

“I was morbidly obese growing up. So I knew how important it was for a lot of not only my clients, but other people who were just holding on to, like, ‘I’ve been doing so well. And I have such a good train of thought and my whole life has been so different. Now I want to try and make sure that I’m on the same path.’

“And so it just gave people I think a little bit of hope that they can actually get back to a routine.”

Ms. Silzer says the group element is key. “People need interaction…instead of just getting so complacent by doing it in their basement or having a lack of motivation because they’re not seeing people,” she said. “That’s a big part of what group fitness and the gym brings to people. It’s your second family, it’s your gym family.”

She laughed, “It’s the people that you go laugh and swear and complain and b****. That’s what a gym is, you leave it all at the gym. That’s just the place where people are at their rawest.”

Mr. Deltoro agreed. “At the end of the day, the people who we attract at Crossfit are people that like working with people, they like being motivated by someone. They like accountability.

“You don’t really have accountability at your house…It was awesome to be self-motivated for a while, but anyone you talk to that did that, it didn’t really last.”

“They didn’t go six months of strict routine, pushing themselves as hard as they could to a TV screen or anything like that.”

How have gym operations changed?

“More cleaning, that’s the difference,” said Mr. Deltoro. “The requirement is you don’t have to wear a mask anymore,” but he thinks that might soon change, based on what he’s seeing in other industries.

“Some people wear masks, some people don’t, it all depends,” he said. “We have marks in across the gym, we have spaces, so they have to stay a good distance away from each other when they’re working out….Everything we were supposed to have had originally, we still have all of that in effect.”

Ms. Silzer said, “I’ve always had more than enough space. So even at the height of COVID, when I was allowed to open back up with a 33%, I still had more than enough space.”

She said they are still continuing some precautions and spacing today. “That’s just to keep people’s peace at mind, let the numbers come back down again — because, of course, us being in a touristy area, our numbers skyrocket throughout the summer. And I’m sure that’s the reason why for it. I don’t understand why it would for any other reason, especially if you’ve got so many people that are already vaccinated.”

Ms. Silzer said her fitness staff has doubled, many joining her from a gym that closed.

At Go-for-Fitness in SGF: ‘You have to be ready to reinvent yourself’

Chronicle staff writer Zander Frost writes: At Go-for-Fitness in South Glens Falls, owner Kathy Scherer said, “Things seem to be coming back. We took a big hit, between the COVID and then with a lot of the big companies that went online and they could offer at-home programs really cheap, a lot cheaper than we can.”

“It makes me sad,” she said, “because I think that a lot of people got very unhealthy over COVID. And they’re not coming back to do what’s healthy for them.”

“The interesting thing is, it’s kind of a demographic that left…late 50s to 70 range. But I actually have my 80 year olds who all came back. Seriously, I have a man in there now, 92.”

Ms. Scherer said their children “are trying to make them stay home and work out at home….saying to them, you know, it’s too dangerous, it’s too dangerous.

“Meanwhile, the sad thing about it is you lose all the social aspect and everything else that you gain. Going to the gym isn’t just all about exercise until you fall over. It’s mental, it’s physical, it’s social.”

Ms. Scherer said, “I still get people who say they don’t want to come in because they think we’re still mandating masks. And I’m like, nobody’s mandating now…So it’s hard, you know, just trying to overcome some of this stuff.

She says, “I have 10 foot spacing that I can maintain forever. I have 3,300 square feet of space. So you’re not on top of each other….As far as cleanliness and all that goes, in an environment like that you have to be! Otherwise, it catches up with you.”

On the bright side, Ms. Scherer said, “It’s not like I lost 50% of my membership and I haven’t gained anything back….We actually gained a quite a few members in August, which is a month that I usually don’t gain any new membership. So that was kind of a neat phenomenon.”

“You always have to be ready to re-invent yourself in some way,” Ms. Scherer said. “I’m trying to, for example, encourage kids classes.” She’d love to see “some kind of P.E. [physical education] credit for these kids who are home-schooled and things like that….There are definitely more homeschoolers now.”

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