Felicia Lee-Sexton estimates she will be a month or two behind on rent payments for her gym until at least next year.
The Women’s Health and Fitness Center in Stafford shut its doors in late March, due to the coronavirus pandemic. Lee-Sexton received no Paycheck Protection Program loan or government stimulus to keep the business afloat or her trainers on the payroll.
“It makes me sad as an African-American entrepreneur of a small business that all the money went to large corporations, which are the last ones that needed money,” Lee-Sexton said. “I am still reeling from trying to play catch-up; by God’s grace, my landlord is working with me.”
On HoustonChronicle.com: Felicia Lee-Sexton builds new life, body years after getting sober
This year has been one tragedy after another, she said. First with the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdown, followed by massive unemployment and now with the murder of George Floyd, a native Houstonian, which has sparked days of Black Lives Matter rallies and protests against police brutality across the country.
The women-only gym isn’t just about physical fitness. There are weekly Bible studies, monthly therapy sessions with a licensed professional counselor and daily check-ins in a members-only Facebook group and Whatsapp.
Lee-Sexton was reluctant to start streaming workouts on Zoom because of the loss of human contact. But she now understands there are people who may have always wanted to work out but couldn’t for a number of reasons, so she will continue to livestream twice a week even when gyms are back to full capacity.
Lee-Sexton will celebrate 27 years of sobrietyon June 16. To her, bodies are temples and require physical strength, as well as mental and spiritual care.
“I think we are a praying gym,” she said. “It’s one thing on top of another thing, but we can’t lose focus on who we are, what we stand for and keeping ourselves fit mentally and physically.”
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Lee-Sexton is one of several Black gym owners in the Houston area. Many are struggling post-lockdown with lost membership fees, but are still offering socially-distant training sessions by appointment:
The Women’s Health and Fitness Center. Felicia Lee-Sexton, owner. 13645 Murphy, Suite 227, Stafford
Inner Me Studios. Nicole Phillips, owner. 2206 Emancipation
Hardcore Pilates. Wayne and Claire Davis, owner. 3801 Kirby, Suite 210
Feasts with Beasts. Marvin Lemond and Chris Caldwell, owners. 3609 Emancipation
Fenixx Fitness. Antanique Landry, owner. 5325 Glenmont, Suite C
Yoga House. Jill Minard, owner. 1815 Cleburne, Suite C
Infinity Fitness Solutions. Kevin Johnson, owner. 311 S. Houston, Suite E, Humble
The Body Shop HTX. Ian Buchanan, owner. 2002 Oakdale
The ONE Fitness. Deon Johnson, owner. 6467 Westheimer
Digg Deep Fitness. Joy Diggs, owner. 2215 Lawrence
Reggie C Fitness. Reggie Collier, owner. 9331 Stella Link
Mean Green Training Center. Chris Green, owner. 6400 Southwest Freeway, Suite G
Dominic’s Ultimate Pilates Studio. Dominic Berry, owner. 821 Frostway
Glory Fitness. Christopher Boykins, owner. 5110 Ashbrook, Suite C
O Athletik. James Cooper, owner. 767 North Shepherd
Are you a Black gym owner and would like to be included in this list? Email your name and location of your gym to firstname.lastname@example.org.