Finding time to workout is no longer an issue for most local residents, the problem is finding a place to workout.
After Governor Mike DeWine closed gyms and fitness centers on March 16 because of the coronavirus pandemic, Logan County residents have had to get creative on how to stay in shape. Area gym and studio owners have also had to adapt and come up with new ways to keep and help their members.
“I had people asking what they should do,” said Scott Sheeley, owner of Ohio Fitness and Martial Arts. “At the time, I think people were upset. I was actually for it just based on the research I was doing and what was happening in other places. It’s especially important for a gym with people sweating on everything. There are a ton of germs in there anyway, and it could be a breeding ground.”
Most have found ways to transition by purchasing workout equipment or weights to build old-school garage gyms or areas to exercise at home.
For existing businesses, though, not being able to use their intended space has proven to get the creative juices flowing. Addy Passaro, owner of Homegrown Yoga Downtown, has gone to a virtual platform. She is now posting six different yoga classes online through the studio’s Facebook page at Homegrown Yoga Downtown. The cost is $50 and covers unlimited content through their Facebook group. Current members already have access and soon non-members will be able to buy individual classes.
“Online yoga was something I’ve been wanting to do for a while,” said Passaro. “It’s a pretty sustainable platform. I just had to learn how to do it and (not being able to teach in studio) gave me the time to learn it.
“I wasn’t as concerned (about closing the studio) because of the support I had from the community when we were moving and renovating our current location. I was sad, though, because I wasn’t going to be seeing people on a daily basis. It pushed me to get innovative with my business.”
While posting videos online has proven to be a viable substitute for yoga, lifting weights and practicing mixed martial arts is a tougher transition to the virtual world. Unless you have the equipment at home or a partner to train with, people are limited in what they can do.
“We’ve had people message us and I’ve talked to them about what they can do at home,” said Sheeley. “On our fitness page we are posting some information as far as home workouts and things you can do, but it’s not a weekly type class. We’re not a big cooperate entity, so people can reach out to us and we’ll respond personally to help.
“I’m looking at things and seeing what we can do, but as far as posting online that is something we haven’t done. We’ve had people reach out about their kids with martial arts requirements (for classes) and offer to send us film of them. Any member that reaches out to me, I’ll give them a home workout or give them nutrition advice, anything to help.”
Another concern for local residents is membership costs while not being able to use facilities. Homegrown Yoga Downtown has adjusted to still get content out, but gyms and fitness centers are another matter. Some businesses around town are still charging members, while others are not.
Sheeley has offered an option to his members. They can continue to be billed and will be reimbursed upon reopening, and will also be offered private personal fitness training or martial arts training. They can also choose not to be billed.
“I know there a few other businesses that are still billing their members, but I didn’t feel right about that,” said Sheeley. “They could be unemployed or could have bills for cable and electric they are trying to pay.
“I sent out an e-mail letting them know they had this option. I was actually caught off guard that we had people asking to be billed. They want to see us make it and not affect the rates when we open back up. We’ve had a good response to all of this, but it is on them to let us know what they’d like to do.”
Changing the business model actually grew Passaro’s yoga studio. The online classes have been a hit and attracted new members that might not have come to the studio.
“I’ve seen a growth in business outside of the state,” said Passaro. “People have subscribed from New York to Los Angeles. A lot of those people who had asked are now able to access it. All of my previous clients are very pleased.
“The community can stay connected in the Facebook group and stay connected with one another. We’re all very grateful we have this platform and creating this cohesive unit, much like we did at the studio, even though we can’t physically be together.”
One avenue Sheeley has explored online is posting videos of fights from the Iron Tiger Fight Series, which are now available on the Facebook pages Ohio Fitness and Marital Arts and the Iron Tiger Fight Series.
“I’ve negotiated the ownership back, so now that I have all that back we have a library of fights we are showing on pay-per-view,” said Sheeley. “We’re also running fights for free twice a week. We want to give the fans and fighters something to do while they’re at home. It’s a customer appreciation thing.”