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As gyms ordered to close, gym owners find creative ways to help clients stay fit

Posted at 6:07 PM, Mar 17, 2020

As Governors Beshear and DeWine order gyms to close to the public, some local facilities are looking for creative, new ways to continue helping their clients stay fit while they stay home.

On Tuesday morning, when WCPO interviewd her, Emily Wagner, owner of Newport Fitness in Covington, was still allowed to keep her gym open and operating. By 5:30 p.m., Governor Beshear ordered all gyms in the state of Kentucky to close. Fortunately for Wagner, she'd been planning for this.

"Myself and all of our other coaches will be doing a daily workout and leading a full warm up and doing our normal coaching and instruction technique," said Wagner. The only difference is, the workouts will stream live on the Newport Fitness Facebook page.

She's not the only local business looking for creative ways to stay in touch with clients and keep people fit while they're stuck at home. The Fully Loaded Dance Studio in West Chester complied with Governor DeWine's order to close on Monday, and by Tuesday, they were already moving their hip hop dance lessons online, and even streaming classes for free on Facebook.

"Everybody has to find a way to help each other," said Katie Coppins, owner of Fully Loaded. "So us, obviously a financial situation but what can we do for the betterment of people that are in our situation and potential what can we do to have people join together to help."

The small businesses are hoping to help families find ways to stay active from home, and give people something productive to do while still keeping their business alive in some way.

"This way, I can enter everyone's home and have fun," said Coppins. "Put your kids in front of the TV for an hour just to get them doing something cool."

This doesn't alleviate the financial burdens for gyms, however. Although Newport Fitness didn't close until Tuesday evening, attendance dwindled in the weeks leading up to the closure, and members began calling to ask for a hold on their accounts.

"At first it wasn't a big deal when one or two people would do it, but then when I realized it was going to be a large number of people, then that would significantly affect our ability to pay our monthly bills," said Wagner.

Fortunately, before things got tight, members stepped in. Eight people paid for a year of membership at the gym in advance, to give the business some cushion. Wagner said others offered to pay monthly membership fees for others in the community affected by COVID-19.

Newport Fitness has set up a program that operates similarly to a library for gym equipment: Wagner is allowing members to rent any gym equipment they need to take home with them for use in their personal workout routines.

"We are going to let all of our equipment be 100% rentable to anyone who needs it, or if anyone who doesn't want to use the equipment or can't afford to rent it, we'll have an online option where they can use their body, or maybe even grab a soup can to mimic a dumbbell," she said.