New York City is known for being a community full of individuals who walk to their destination. I mean, how many other cities once had official signage that said “Pay Attention While Walking”? What happens when walking is not only your best option for travel, but also your primary exercise and a way to stay healthy and avoid a pandemic? MD2 Property Group’s Chief Operating Officer Abby Mintz had a consistent morning routine before COVID-19, “wake up, put on gym clothes, go to the gym, do a cardio workout and take a fitness class, rinse and repeat, every day.” Mintz says “due to an apprehension of taking public transportation during the pandemic, walking and biking became my sole source of transportation. Surprisingly, it was a refreshing and seemingly healthful alternative.” This has been the new reality for many New Yorkers until recently when Governor Andrew Cuomo said all gyms had to open between August 24th and September 2nd with certain conditions and restrictions. For an anxious group of New Yorkers, this seemed like good news that we have been waiting for all summer.
Of course, Governor Cuomo also said ultimately it was up to the localities and local elected officials to arrange an additional plan for the reopening and inspection of private and public gyms and fitness centers. For us, that means Governor Cuomo put the ball in Mayor Bill de Blasio’s hands, no pun intended. Mayor de Blasio has since said the city would be “cautious with that local decision-making and choose to take a conservative approach.” Some experts have recommended opening gyms with limited capacities, with strict restrictions on machine usage, personal protective equipment, and additional cleaning protocols. Mayor de Blasio’s reason for indicating that gyms would likely not open in New York City before the September 2nd deadline is that they are solely focused on sending inspectors to schools first before they reopen on September 10th. “We’re going to work through how to balance that, but there’s no question in my mind, the most important thing we could do with our health inspectors is focus on childcare centers in schools,’ de Blasio said.
At this moment, buildings can begin to prepare for a reopening, but are not permitted to actually open the gym or fitness center doors. Other gym amenities such as saunas and showers will also not be permitted to open under the restrictions set forth by Governor Cuomo. As many shareholders and unit owners are starting to put pressure on their managing agent and the board to open their private building’s fitness center – many board members may be struggling with putting together the plan for reopening. MD Squared Property Group fully supports physical fitness and encourages staff to stay active and healthy. We are even hosting a fitness class in the park to promote employee fitness. We can understand the frustration for residents who have building amenities that have been closed for several months. But fortunately, with proper preparation, they should be open soon.
Property Manager, Michal Jacobs, says “our building residents are thrilled to finally have their gyms re-open during these unprecedented times. Throughout the past few months, many building residents have been cramped in small NYC apartment corridors. The ability to be active and utilize workout equipment when you are stuck inside for most of the day is an exciting thought to these building residents. Not to mention, these gyms could potentially help these building residents fight off other health risks, such as diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. We are looking forward to helping our building residents maintain a healthy and active lifestyle which is crucial for both their physical and mental health. This couldn’t come at a better time, where the weather in NYC is getting ready for its winter season.” This idea is echoed by Dan Arriggo, member of an elite fitness team, who says “the gym is stress relief for me. It aids in my work, my family, and my life. It’s also my outlet.” Arriggo also explains “the gym is an outlet for not only individuals who want to stay physically fit but also for people who may be fighting off an addiction or stressors. The longer gyms stay closed completely, the longer these individuals are at risk for relapse.”
One thing is clear on both sides of the argument to reopen gyms and fitness centers, everyone wants to be safe. Since the announcement from Mayor de Blasio that gyms could in fact open on September 2nd, many business owners, board members, and property managers will now spring into action to finalize a plan to reopen their fitness centers safely. We urge you to have a detailed conversation about the requirements and make sure your space is going to reopen in accordance with the guidance set forth by both New York City and State.