NYC gyms dream up creative outdoor workouts despite closures
Gym rats aren’t sweating the pandemic anymore.
Gov. Cuomo has stayed firm on keeping gyms closed in New York City to stop the spread of coronavirus. But that isn’t stopping several headstrong owners, who are using the nice weather to their advantage and putting the “out” in workout by opening al fresco gyms. But it’s far from your basic squats-in-the-park workout: Weights, machines and bikes are seeing the sunlight for the first time, being set up outside as full-fledged gymnasiums.
Adam Sturm, the co-founder of cross-training studio BK Fit, has fitness fans lifting on the sidewalks of Bushwick and Bed-Stuy.
BK Fit’s first foray back to group classes started with small get-togethers in local parks but has since expanded to one full outdoor gym in Williamsburg and three “curbside locations” outside their brick-and-mortar locations across the borough. Fit now offers 100 classes a week outside.
The 2,500-square-foot outdoor East Williamsburg space he rented is anything but makeshift.
“We have a pullup rig and the whole nine yards,” said Sturm. Although the tricep extension and leg press machines were left indoors, the open-air studio has unique Olympic-style rings hanging from pullup bars. On sidewalks at the curbside sweat locales, patrons do box jumps inside cones so they don’t get in the way of pedestrians.
BYKlyn Cycle, owned by Amy Glosser, also expanded to a new space. Despite having to shut down her Park Slope studio because of the coronavirus, she said loyal spinners wanted to keep their memberships.
“We put real money in here, which is a risk. We are betting that COVID won’t close us down and people will behave and our numbers will stay where they are,” Glosser told The Post.
She’s since transformed a dilapidated, 1,200-square-foot empty lot she purchased by the Barclays Center into BYKlyn Yard: 18 stationary bikes dot the turf-lined yard, which has some ambience during evening classes with lights strung overhead.
Although cycling classes won’t be held if the temperature rises over 90 degrees or if it rains, Glosser hopes her bikers will continue after the summer ends.
“Even when it gets cold, I hope people put on sweats and come on over,” she says.
To minimize noise and filter out buzz from traffic and passers-by, spinners wear SoundOff headphones so they can hear the teacher and the music at their own desired volume. This “silent disco” method has been adopted by other outdoor studios including Tracy Anderson’s Watermill, LI, studio and SoulCycle’s SoulOutside four Hamptons locations. The gyms sanitize headsets in between classes and allow riders to bring their own as well.
Anderson’s al fresco spot, which will be open through September, has moved its bouncy “Super-G” cardio floors outside — which helps lessen the blow to joints as members jump and dance — and added an overhead covering to keep the spot shady.
Wooden platforms help elevate the workout experience — and enforce social distancing. At One Yoga Space in Montauk ($30 a class), yogis practice on raised beds typically reserved for poolside loungers.
And at New York Pilates in Montauk, Heather Andersen and Brion Isaacs built their own platforms in the parking lot to elevate their pilates reformer machines off the ground, which not only spaces the 15 reformers for safety but puts exercisers in the path of the summer breeze off the water.
“There’s no possibility someone could get COVID at New York Pilates, that’s my main concern,” Andersen told The Post.
She said members have been so grateful for the studio’s return that they’ve gotten emotional.
“Someone literally cried that first weekend on the reformer,” said Andersen. New York Pilates is currently working on attaining a parking lot permit in the city, while their five other locations remain closed.
Now that all these summer hot spots are back in action, there’s just one thing you need to add to your gym bag, says Andersen.
“Don’t forget to wear sunscreen.”
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