Gyms, health studios tasked with coaxing again members


When the Sonoma gyms, yoga, and Pilates studios reopen this week after nearly a year of closure, they face an uphill battle to lure members back.

“Our battle is far from over,” said Adam Kovacs, owner of Sonoma Fit, who said he lost more than two-thirds of its members during the pandemic, despite spinning fast and spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on virtual classes (SoFit TV). Outdoor training platforms, tents, and weatherproof fitness equipment.

The cost of owning and operating a gym varies depending on the size, location, and type of facility. However, the total cost of ownership for health clubs tends to be high compared to other companies. The rent for Kovacs’ three gyms in Sonoma, Novato and Petaluma alone is $ 95,000 per month. And whether clubs own or rent their equipment, fitness equipment is expensive.

Arturo Jiminez, owner of Sonoma’s fitness factory, said his club lost almost every one of its monthly members as the closure continued while its bills rose.

“We’ve paid and paid and paid and the bills keep coming back with no income,” Jiminez said.

As Sonoma’s fitness facilities, large and small, prepared to reopen over the weekend, half a dozen owners and managers looked back on the past 12 months and the challenge that lies ahead.

“We can’t just say, ‘Yippee, we’re open!'” Said Kovacs. “The real battle – to get our members and our income back – lies ahead of us.”

The place to rejoin

Sonoma Valley’s four largest gyms – Sonoma Fit, Parkpoint Health Club, Anytime Fitness, and Fitness Factory – reopened in the last 48 hours.

Parkpoint reopened on March 15, and Sonoma general manager Jennifer Anderson said she was “excited” to welcome members back. She doesn’t expect everyone to immediately feel comfortable exercising indoors, so Parkpoint will continue to offer outdoor training options for the foreseeable future.

“Many of our members enjoyed being outside for training,” she said.

But it’s more than just the services on offer that will draw members back, Anderson said.

“They told us how much they missed Parkpoint because it was always the place to connect,” she said, noting that it was missing as people have tried to train on their own for the past year.

Jiminez and Kovacs agree that the sense of community, camaraderie, and access to advice and motivation from fitness trainers will likely be critical in attempts to re-sign members who have left during the pandemic.

However, it will be just as important to reassure cautious customers with a variety of coronavirus security control measures. All of the Sonoma gyms contacted by the Index Tribune listed numerous new safety measures, from device removal to hospital-grade electrostatic disinfection, HVAC upgrades and high-performance air purifiers, and a greater emphasis on fresh air circulation.

Fitness Factory and Sonoma Fit, along with Anytime Fitness, are open to members 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Jiminez is hoping it’ll be a tie when he’s open longer.

“Outdoor classes weren’t an option for us because our members want to train with equipment,” he said.

Anytime Fitness has no access to outdoor areas at its location in the mall for most of the year. It reopened at 11 a.m. on March 16

“We will not pressure anyone to come back in if they are not comfortable, but we will do everything we can to share the extra safety measures that have been taken and any good reasons to get back into the exercise routine. Said Anytime Fitness GM Laura Kirley.

Small boutique studios face occupancy problems

Sonoma’s yoga and Pilates studios have resumed indoor classes. While restaurants, museums, and theaters are now allowed to resume indoor operations at 25 percent capacity under red tier guidelines, indoor fitness centers must reach a maximum capacity of 10 percent, which is a real challenge for the boutique for large gyms -Business.

“Since we can only have four students in the room at a time, we leave it up to the teachers whether they want to continue the virtual class until that number increases,” said Lisa Willet, owner of the Yoga Community. Willett will increase her capacity by re-pitching her tent in Sonoma Garden Park and teaching outside classes as the weather improves. She also undertook a “pandemic pivot” and this year offered a community supply store in unused studio space. it remains open indefinitely.