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New York’s gyms and fitness studios can finally reopen – as soon as August 24, and no later than September 2. But gym owners are meeting Governor Andrew Cuomo’s announcement today with caution.

“The localities have to inspect the gyms before they open or within two weeks of their opening to make sure they’re meeting all the requirements,” said the Governor.

“Localities can also determine whether classes can be undertaken.”

He added: “The local health departments must inspect … to make sure all the guidelines are in place.”

Mark Fisher owns Mark Fisher Fitness, a gym on W39th St – 9th/10th Ave that offers a range of classes and semi-private training sessions. A second location, on The Bowery, was forced to close mid-pandemic. He said he was both excited at the positive steps towards opening, but added that a lot was still unclear.

“I’ve read that City Hall just announced that indoor fitness classes aren’t allowed in the city, which is obviously a big deal for us and would also impact our plans.

“And then of course, on top of those two factors, we’ll need to reassess how many are ready to come back before we know if it’s feasible to reopen.

“But all in all,” he said, “clearly this is a step in the right direction and we’re excited about the prospects of (safely) reconvening in person.”

In a Twitter survey, 43% of people said they were ready to get back to the gym, but 57% are either unsure or not willing to return. One said: “But not with a mask – totally insane!”

On Instagram, those numbers we’re weighted towards a “no” vote – with only 26% of users saying they would go back.

New York City gyms have been closed since March 16. And, as the city slowly introduced a phased reopening, they have been ordered to stay closed, amid fears that the virus could spread more easily in conditions where intense exercise is taking place indoors.

Some owners and trainers have switched to online and outdoor classes, and sales of at-home workout equipment has soared. But a frustration in the industry led to the filing of a state-wide class action last week, arguing that, since tattoo parlors, tanning salons, and health spas were allowed to reopen, the plan is unequal, random and arbitrary.

A hearing is scheduled for Thursday.

UPDATE

It is looking increasingly unlikely that New York’s gyms will be ready to reopen next week.

A City Hall spokesman said inspectors are making schools and childcare centers their priority, and gyms will not be inspected until that process is complete.

When they do open, it will be for individual training; indoor fitness classes and pools have been ruled out for now.

“There’s no higher priority than making sure our schools and child care centers are safe for learning in the fall,” said Mitch Schwartz, “and the City’s dedicated team of inspectors will continue prioritizing that work. While indoor fitness classes and indoor pools will not be opening at this time, we’ll be developing a fair and rigorous inspection system for other gym setups in the coming weeks.”