Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce Supports Gym/Fitness Center Capacity Increase

ROCHESTER, NY – Local fitness center owners and members from Rochester hosted a press conference to call for an increase in capacity to 50% for gyms and fitness centers. Fitness centers across the State have continued to follow vigorous safety measures that have been put into place by Governor Cuomo to safely open indoor fitness activities. Under these strict safety measures, fitness centers can continue to provide New Yorkers a place to exercise with an increased capacity limit.

The NYS Fitness Alliance conducted a survey of gym and fitness centers in January and found capacity limits are adversely affecting the industry and minimal instances of contact tracing linked to fitness centers have been reported. According to the data, all New York fitness centers reported being impacted by capacity restrictions; 32% reported being either severely impacted or not viable due to the restrictions.

When asked what level of restricted capacity would allow their facilities to be viable and still safely implement social distancing, 49% of participants pointed to an increase in capacity to 50%, and 30% of participants pointed to an increase in capacity to 66%. All respondents said that capacity could be safely increased to 50% or greater while maintaining social distancing – a measure that would ensure the viability of the business. Fifty percent of respondents indicated that capacity could be increased to 66% or 75% while maintaining social distancing protocols.

The survey data showed just three locations reported having been contacted through contact tracing efforts while tracking over 1 million visits - a .0003% rate. In addition to following all safety and public health protocols enforced by the State, the survey revealed that no respondents had been reported for any guideline violations.

“Fitness centers take their responsibility to create a safe place to exercise extremely seriously,” said Jeff Sanders, Chief Executive Officer of Athletic Apex in Rochester. “Increasing capacity in fitness centers could be the difference between a business closing and staying open – but most importantly we know it can be done while enforcing social distancing and other public health protocols.”

“Gyms and fitness centers are an integral part of our Greater Rochester economy, and a key factor in maintaining the physical and mental health of our community,” said Bob Duffy, Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce President and CEO. “The impact of COVID-19 on these businesses has been devastating. As we turn the tide toward defeating this virus, Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce supports allowing gyms to increase their capacity to 50%. This industry has proven to be remarkably effective when it comes to disinfecting, distancing, masking, and enforcing other such safety protocols. We believe expanding to 50% capacity will still allow them to maintain the safety of their patrons, while helping them to recover financially.”

“Advancing the mental and physical health of our members is our core function and the data shows that we can do that at an even greater capacity than is currently allowed,” said Bill Lia, Chair of New York State Fitness Alliance. “This is true of facilities of all sizes – large facilities allow for social distancing capabilities and studios host supervised classes led by instructors who can enforce health and safety measures. Throughout the pandemic, fitness centers have gone above and beyond to advance the health and safety of the public, it’s time to expand access to exercise facilities.”

The national impact of COVID-19 on the fitness industry has been immense. With the loss of 1.4 million jobs, and the permanent closing of 6,000 gyms, this leaves roughly 12.2 million Americans left without their preferred place to exercise. While the NYS Fitness Alliance believes that fitness centers across the State can continue safe workouts, and meet safety protocols with a 50% capacity limit, the Alliance also believes this capacity increase could lead to the recovery of jobs and businesses saved.