LOWVILLE, N.Y. (WWNY) - The COVID-19 pandemic has hit the fitness business particularly hard, with gyms struggling to re-open, some filing for bankruptcy and some even closing their doors permanently.
We meet a local fitness trainer that has seen first hand the effects, and has been on a roller coaster ride of his own the past 6 months.
The Double Play Community Center in Lowville is one of many businesses in the Lowville area that is feeling the effects of having to shut their doors due to the coronavirus.
A non-profit organization that like many others in the area is a vital part of the community that hopes it can weather the storm and come back strong to serve the people that rely on its services daily.
Sam Benzing is a Greig native and no stranger to Double Play Sports and Fitness Center.
”Even before this place was Double Play, I was training here just myself and then I did a summer, which Dan had mentioned, with the summer rec program, I worked that when that first started out,” said Benzing, a personal trainer.
When Benzing went back to school, he started training at Armour Up Fitness until he graduated and eventually landed a job there as a personal trainer.
But when the pandemic hit, Armour Up Fitness closed, filed for bankruptcy and went out of business, leaving Benzing without a job.
”It was tough because they taught me pretty much anything that I knew about training outside of school so a lot of the practical implications,” said Benzing.
Benzing got wind that Double Play Fitness needed a trainer and reached out to Executive Director Dan Myers about coming on board, and Myers jumped at the opportunity with a vision of the future post COVID in mind.
”We have to be looking at 2 to 3 years down the road. We know there’s going to be winners and losers out of this, we’ve seen that already with Armour Up Fitness closing in Watertown and us taking on one of their former trainers who worked with us in the past,” said Myers.
Benzing has hit the ground running, and despite not having any clients to train, he has been hard at work preparing the fitness center for when the doors eventually re-open.
”Reorganize the equipment, move a lot of the stuff, reorganize the treadmills, we pulled a bike out into the back to kind of re-situate it so we can have those guidelines. Outside, we cleaned the parking lot where we’re having outdoor group classes. He’s put in the turf out back, there’s a little sled push area, TRX, we have all the medicine balls and stuff out there so it’s been a whirl,” said Benzing.
Benzing says he can envision some big changes as to the way he as a personal trainer will have to operate when gyms re-open and beyond, with more one on one training.
”The huge group classes that people see with 15-20 people, I don’t see those surviving too much. So I think a lot of the one-on-one training clients and just personal will still see some benefit there. It’s just tough, like Dan said, you gotta pivot and really take a hybrid method from in here and then even at home so training some in here and giving our clients plans to utilize at home with minimal equipment,” said Benzing.
With people being away from the gym for so long, Benzing says he sees a positive as far as the way they approach working out.
”I think you’ll see a lot more people with a healthier mindset that want to come back,” said Benzing.