Boutique health studios file lawsuit in opposition to de Blasio, Cuomo

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STATEN ISLAND, NY – Earlier this week, a lawsuit was filed against Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio on behalf of more than 20 boutique gyms, several of which are located on Staten Island, banned across New York City.

With movie theaters, pool halls, and catering halls on the horizon, boutique gym owners say they have been banned from reopening plans.

According to court files filed with the New York State Supreme Court, mom and pop gym owners say they simply want to be able to open their gyms and take socially distant classes that meet all of the coronavirus (COVID -19).

Larissa Schiano-Gonzalez often goes to her shop, Be Yoga & Dance in Rosebank, to dance and / or meditate – alone.

All of these studios have been closed for almost a year.

While Cuomo said gyms across the state could reopen on Aug. 24, he said local elected officials – in the case of New York City, that is de Blasio – could delay the resumption of fitness classes. While many big box gyms were able to open on September 2, 2020, the mayor is not allowing indoor fitness classes to resume. This has resulted in boutique gyms like the Max Challenge, yoga centers, CrossFit and Pilates studios, which rely on classes as their business’s main attraction, cannot be reopened.

“In light of the Supreme Court’s great victory in Buffalo yesterday, we further support our argument that all gyms should open,” said Charlie Cassara, president and founder of the New York Fitness Coalition (NYFC), referring to a won case Buffalo Gym Owners Against the State.

Joseph Cannizzo’s Staten Island Judo Jujitsu Dojo in Annadale has been closed for almost a year. (Courtesy Joseph Cannizzo)

“The mayor and his team have repeatedly failed to provide evidence or truthfulness to these forced and arbitrary shutdowns,” added Cassara, who is also president of the United States Fitness Coalition (USFC), which, along with NYFC, represented fitness owners during the pandemic .

And the lawsuit filed this week is one of several on behalf of the fitness industry since the pandemic began. A report filed in Richmond County last year was unsuccessful. No judge has yet overturned de Blasio’s decision against fitness classes.

Last week, de Blasio said, “We want everything to be decided by data and science. As the doctors have said, there is a special sensitivity in these places. … I want life for the people in the city to continue to improve. I want to see more and more things openly – open them again. I want companies to survive and their employees to have jobs, but Job 1 is the health and safety of all New Yorkers, and these locations are particularly sensitive. “

The governor’s and mayor’s offices did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit.

FIGHT TO SURVIVE

And island gym owners say they are struggling to survive.

5 Boro Power Yoga

Karen Torrone, alone at 5 Boro Power Yoga, where she still can’t run indoor classes. She was forced to close her studio in Tottenville and only her New Dorp location is still operational, she said. (Courtesy Karen Torrone)

Roseann Camarda, who owns three popular gyms – in Grasmere, Woodrow and Great Kills – as part of the Max Challenge franchise on Staten Island with husband Anthony Camarda, said she “barely holds on”.

“I’m behind on my rent. We still have to pay for all kinds of insurance. I keep the utilities running, ”she said, noting that she lost a large portion of her membership because she could only offer virtual courses. “I just heard that Governor Andrew Cuomo is opening amusement parks. Why are we the only ones closed? I just read that Mayor de Blasio wants women-owned businesses to flourish. I’m a women owned company, but it’s destroying me. “

Joseph Cannizzo, owner of the Judo Jujitsu Dojo on Staten Island in Annadale, said: “We are approaching the one year anniversary of the mandatory closure of my martial arts school. My dojo is facing bankruptcy due to outstanding property taxes, mortgage payments, and collaboration fees that have not been paid in nearly a year. Politicians have failed to pass quick and efficient laws that focus on subsidizing small businesses like mine. … We were absolutely destroyed. “

Larissa Schiano-Gonzalez, owner of Be Yoga & Dance in Rosebank, said that while she has many loyal members of the studio taking the classes, her income has dropped 75%. She said she could pay her rent, but not much else.

“I literally just pay the rent and my teachers. I can stay afloat, but I had to work extra hard and do things outside to support the studio, ”she said.

Like Schiano-Gonzalez, Karen Torrone, owner of 5 Boro Power Yoga, has been offering online classes since her studio closed.

She was forced to close her studio in Tottenville and only her New Dorp location is still operational, she said.

“I’ve lost more than half of our members and more than 60% of sales. Because we understand the needs for health, wellness, and connection, we offer four free online yoga classes per week, including one for addicts. These free online courses have been a lifeline for those suffering from anxiety and stress who need an outlet but don’t currently have the resources, ”said Torrone.

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