With June 1st fast approaching, boutique gyms are adapting their programming as they prepare to reopen their businesses for safe exercising in Delaware.
Local fitness studio owners continue to offer unique virtual programming experiences, but some are now also offering in-person programming – like outdoor boot camps and ‘barre at the barn’ – with strict precautions to keep their clients motivated.
Ellen Spell, owner of Cycology 202, Sea Cycle and Sea Barre Fitness, has kicked off free classes this week to her clients at the beach at a new location – a farm wedding location owned by one of her customers.
The open space at the Covered Bridge Inn is like a covered pavilion; the two ends are completely open with 24-foot-wide doors.
Spell limits signups for her barre and spin classes to nine clients and one instructor – all six feet apart. Customers are asked to wear a mask to the classes and only take their masks off at the start of class.
Spell, who has built a community of followers at her exercise locations in Lewes and Glen Mills, PA, also has a library of over 100 videos and uploads about two each day for clients, who she also considers her “friends.”
The workouts consist of barre, indoor rhythmic cycling, HIIT and combination classes and are available through livestream and VOD.
Boutique gyms are smaller gyms usually between 800-3500 square feet and focus on specific kinds of exercise with community-driven essence.
Spell plans on opening her boutique gym in Delaware on the 1st. Sea Barre Fitness in Lewes will operate while continuing social distancing guidelines along with extreme sanitation.
Cycology 202 in Glen Mills, PA will not be opening yet as Pennsylvania is under different guidelines.
But Spell says all of her studios will operate using the same safety protocols.
“Our studios will open with very strict sanitation and social distance protocols in place. We are limiting classes to one third capacity and requiring masks and temperature checks. Clients will have to supply their own equipment or rent for the day. We have special electrostatic machines to sterilize the studio each day on top of rigorous cleaning,” Spell said.
Joanie Husband, owner of Joanie Fit, LLC in Wilmington, has found a silver lining in the pandemic in the way her clients have a new sense of community for each other.
“The physical element, the stress relief that you get from a workout, the mental recharge that you get from a workout is so important,” Husband spoke of her essential worker clients. “That was such a big part of their day when I was with them in person.”
Joanie and members of her family, who also double as her camera crew, have created a compilation of exercise videos around Wilmington in different locations. The videos are featured on Facebook Live as well as the app, BurnAlong.
Some of the most popular videos are at the Delaware Art Museum, The Mill Space, Wilmington Brew Works and the Wilmington Youth Rowing Association. Her dogs are even featured in some of the videos.
“Clients that are all over are able to come back and into these classes with us,” Husband said. “Watching them all connecting I think is really cool. That’s one of the things I thought was really important for people to see and know, even though everyone has to isolate, we’re still doing these classes.”
Husband is planning on having social distancing boot camps outside of her studio in Wilmington as the first phase begins and then slowly transitioning safely back into the gym.
Joanie’s clients have reached out overwhelmingly positively. She even assembled a collage of all of the testimonials she’s gotten thus far to look back on and help boost spirits in these tough times.
One of Husband’s clients’ mothers was in the hospital for COVID-19. When she was healthy enough to go home she joined one of the classes. These stories are what keeps her going.
Both owners are continuing the virtual programming for those who are not as comfortable with transitioning back just yet as well to boost spirits and continue to get people moving.
No matter what direction each gym is going, one thing seems to remain consistent- the mental and physical health of these communities is paramount, and achieving that in safe and creative ways is the top priority of these small business owners.
“If COVID ends up proving one thing I believe it’s the importance of good health, and there is literally nothing better for your physical and mental health than being active and exercising,” Spell said.