Surviving a Near Five-Month Closure

Images courtesy of Subversus Fitness

Subversus Fitness in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, knows what it means to persevere. 

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the gym had to remain closed from March 16 to July 20. The same day they were forced to close, they immediately kicked off Zoom classes because they had planned for a potential closure. 

“We split up members into groups and each Coach was assigned a small group to keep in closer contact with who they had more personal relationships with,” said Wylie Belasik, the owner of Subversus Fitness. “We also added at-home seminars every two weeks that focused on either nutrition — including adding cooking classes — and bringing on physical therapists to do live discussions on common ailments with ways to improve them from home.

A Coach films for a virtual class.

In addition to proper planning, Belasik said communication was a very important tool that helped them carry on.

“We worked really hard to focus on what we could control and do that as well as we could, not just wait for the gym to open to hope people stay with us,” he explained. “Asking what people needed from home was helpful. Cooking was a popular resource and now we’ll keep at-home cooking classes as part of what we offer to members going forward.”

The response to reopening has been very positive. The facility is still offering online and outdoor classes for those who are not comfortable coming inside yet. Belasik said they plan on keeping some of those classes permanently to better cater to their members.

Inside the gym, athletes have 10-foot-by-10-foot squares that have designed walkways between them so the Coaches can move around the room at a safe distance. “We made a full members’ safety statement that includes everything from the details on the disinfectant we’re using, to signing up for classes and moving around the space,” said Belasik.

Some classes have moved outdoors.

Additionally, the facility sent out a video to their members beforehand so they knew what to expect and how the gym would operate before returning. For the time being, classes are capped at eight members, two lower than mandated by Philadelphia to ensure extra safety. Each class is separated by at least 30 minutes to allow change over and cleaning.

For those Boxes concerned they may be facing a second shutdown soon, there is some advice Belasik has after enduring a near five-month closure. 

“Recognize how much value you can create that doesn’t require a gym,” said Belasik. “It’s easy for us to fixate on that, but there is so much more. Whether it’s individual programs for members with their at-home equipment, to nutrition, to social events online — asking people what they needed and then using all our skills was helpful to remember.”

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Taylor Brown is a staff writer at Peake Media. Contact her at taylor@peakemedia.com.