New COVID-19 guidelines in New York are requiring gyms and health clubs to shut their doors no later than 10 p.m., but Retro Fitness CEO Andrew Alfano said the move is unnecessary and gyms are essential to maintaining health.
Last Friday, Governor Andrew Cuomo instituted the curfew for gyms as well as in-person restaurant and bar services, but Alfano says fitness centers should not be lumped together with eateries.
Additionally, he questioned the usefulness of curfews and pointed out that overnight shift workers, such as police officers, firefighters, and healthcare workers who use gyms late in the evening, are likely to be those most affected by the new guidelines.
“This is a non-discriminating disease. It does not discriminate against the population and it certainly doesn’t know the time. So [there's no difference] before 10 p.m. or after 10 p.m.,” Alfano continued, noting that the chain has asked Cuomo to reconsider the curfew.
New York isn't the only city restricting gym use. Oregon and cities such as Philadelphia and San Francisco have also announced plans to close or restrict gym hours as the latest wave of COVID-19 reaches new heights.
Alfano's message to governors considering a complete shutdown of health and fitness facilities: don't. He noted that unlike the locales restricting gym access, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis was among the first onboard to reopen, a move Alfano supports.
He stressed the importance of exercise and maintaining health even as the pandemic persists. "There is more to public health than just a virus. There's mental health. There's physical health."
After earlier restrictions were lifted, Alfano said Retro Fitness saw an uptick in business with new member enrollments recently up 20 percent.
“Our September, if you can imagine this, in the midst of a pandemic, we had the best September in franchise sales since September 2013, and we had our best overall month since 2017,” he noted.
The company is looking to build on its recovery with plans to incorporate a hybrid option that allows members to complete workout sessions at home.
Alfano also announced that the company will be partnering with a trained chef to provide members with access to healthy food prep videos via YouTube.