East Meadow gyms are back in business, but not as usual | Herald Community Newspapers

A group of four patrons of AB Fitness Center worked out with trainer Pete Khatcherian on Monday afternoon, the day gyms were permitted to resume operations in New York under Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s reopening protocols.

But at AB Fitness Center, customers were outside, amid temperatures in the mid-80s, in the shade of a tent set up in the parking lot of the East Meadow business’s new Massapequa facility, which opened in February.

Owner Anthony Bevilacqua and his staff created the outdoor training area, dubbed the “muscle pit,” roughly a month ago, when it was still unclear when gyms would be able to resume indoor activities. Patrons of the East Meadow facility were also welcome to book training sessions in Massapequa, because the gym on East Meadow Avenue lacked the space for an outdoor training area of its own.

Both AB Fitness Center locations are keeping their indoor facilities closed until further notice. While he was excited to hear Cuomo’s announcement on Aug. 17, Bevilacqua found the governor’s guidelines confusing and not one-size-fits-all. “You can’t just open your doors and let people work out,” he said. “I don’t want to open just to find out I’m not doing everything right.”

Gyms are restricted to operating at 33 percent of capacity, and face coverings must be worn at all times. Facilities must have a heating, ventilation and air-conditioning filtration system that meets state health guidelines. Gyms must be inspected by local officials before they allow guests inside, or by Sept. 2. Local officials will also decide whether gyms can resume indoor classes.

At both AB Fitness Center locations, personal trainers work with one to four clients at a time, so Bevilacqua isn’t worried about social distancing, he said. But neither facility has an updated HVAC system, and he said he was deciding whether to install one or figure out an alternative that would still satisfy state guidelines.

In the meantime, customers will keep exercising outdoors. “People love the muscle pit, so we may leave that option open anyway,” Bevilacqua said. “Most people spend the day in front of a computer, so it’s good to get the chance to spend time outside and get some vitamin D.”

Also holding off on reopening Monday was Evolve Health and Fitness, formerly World Gym, also on East Meadow Avenue. Throughout the pandemic, the gym’s owner, Frank Camarano Jr., the board chairman of the East Meadow Chamber of Commerce, has focused on establishing its new brand. Thought it has undergone some renovations, the fitness center is under the same management.

After he heard Cuomo’s announcement, Camarano decided that he, too, needed more time to prepare the facility for guests. Evolve will reopen on Sept. 1, and on Tuesday morning he explained its guidelines in a post on its Facebook page.

All guests must check in and have their temperature checked at the door. To ensure social distancing, certain equipment will be off limits, and for the time being the gym will keep its steam rooms, showers, saunas and massage beds closed as well, and will hold no group fitness classes. For more information, contact Info.EM@EvolveFitness.health.

While some fitness centers remained closed on Monday, others were busy. Club Pilates East Meadow, on Front Street, resumed its group and private classes. And Dream Dance Fitness, on East Meadow Avenue, was in its second month of operations. Because it’s not considered a gym, and deemed “low-risk entertainment,” owner Natasha Roman explained, the studio was permitted to resume activities in Phase 4 of the state’s reopening, which began on Long Island on July 8.

Dream Dance Fitness explained its reopening protocols in a YouTube video on July 5. For pole dancing classes, patrons clean their poles with a microfiber towel and a solution of 70 percent rubbing alcohol. Similar to gym requirements, the studio also uses an air filtration system. And in between classes, it is cleaned with a virucide supplied by the studio’s neighbors at A&C Pest Management.

The studio also reduced its capacity from 30 to eight, and during dance classes, the floor is marked with tape indicating where dancers should be positioned to ensure social distancing.

“We had a great response, and a lot of people came back right away,” Roman said. “I’m actually getting a lot of new people too. They’re happy to be out of quarantine and want something to do.”

Dream Dance Fitness has been in East Meadow for six years, and Roman is a board member of the Chamber of Commerce, which has been giving businesses reopening kits that contain personal protective equipment and other supplies.

“East Meadow has really been at the forefront of getting businesses back on their feet,” Roman said. “Everyone should feel comfortable going out and about again, because the business owners here truly care about our customers, and are doing the best we can to make everyone feel safe.” 

— to www.liherald.com

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