San Francisco’s small gyms fight to stay afloat as closures, restrictions – Health News Today

Desperate to keep his business afloat, Dave Karraker pushed huge exercise equipment out of his studio in the Castro neighborhood and onto a sidewalk Wednesday.

He probably would have thrust a treadmill into four lanes of traffic on Market Street, if he thought it would have helped.

“We’re a small business,” the co-owner of MX3 Fitness in San Francisco said. “We’ve got to be scrappy. We can’t just roll over. … We’re fighters. We’re going to keep fighting. They’re not going to take us down easily.”

Gyms were among the first businesses to close in response to the coronavirus pandemic, with some rolling down their gates even before shelter-in-place orders went into effect across the Bay Area. Gold’s Gym went bankrupt in May, and 24 Hour Fitness followed this month. But the owners of boutique gyms and studios in San Francisco worry they may never recover from the shutdown.

The San Francisco Independent Fitness Studio Coalition estimates that its 40 members are losing nearly $9 million a month while they remain closed. For them, and their 600 employees, the road to recovery isn’t obvious.

In 2018, Karraker took over a storefront in the Castro that had been vacant for 10 years, an expansion from its original location in the Lower Haight.

Now he’s facing losing both locations, even after getting a Paycheck Protection Program loan and an agreement with his landlord to defer rent until next year.

San Francisco eased restrictions on outdoor workouts in mid-June, so Karraker decided to push his gym outside. He got three workout appointments for Thursday and some inquiries about buying cardio passes. It is unclear whether Karraker’s makeshift arrangement violates city rules that ban the use of shared equipment. But after losing 85% percent of his business for the past three months, even some creative, boundary-pushing moves won’t stop the bleeding.

“That’s just kicking the can down the road,” Karraker said.

Gov. Gavin Newsom let counties opt to reopen their gyms on June 12. The North Bay counties as well as San Mateo have taken advantage of that order, and Contra Costa and Marin counties were set to…

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