BUFFALO, N.Y. — A large group of gym owners known as the New York State Fitness Alliance (NYSFA) are calling on Governor Andrew Cuomo to increase capacity at gyms.
"Our current ask into the governor's office in discussions is being on par with the restaurant industry at 75%," said NYSFA Chair and gym owner Bill Lia.
Starting Friday, restaurants in New York State outside NYC will be able to operate indoor dining at 75% capacity. However, under New York State guidance, gyms and fitness centers are still operating under a 33% capacity limit.
Lia owns four gyms in the Albany area, he said if restaurants can operate safely at that capacity, gyms can too.
"We just think that if restaurants are able to do that safely in the environment we have where we wear masks 100% of the time and have all the other protocols in place, we feel we should be at least on par if not higher in terms of capacity in the fitness centers," Lia said.
The NYSFA is having conversations with the governor's office about this.
In a presentation sent to the state, the group sourced industry data reporting 6,800 gyms have had to close permanently nationwide. They also sourced NYS data from December that showed that gyms were responsible for .06% of COVID-19 spread.
Lia said they are also advocating for gyms to be able to set their own capacity based on square footage and ability to social distance, which he said would help smaller studios.
"The fact is, is that most of us in the industry realize that keeping people at a safe distance, wearing masks, it's worked and we are able to do that," he said. "What we are advocating for is give us more flexibility to use those guidelines that will allow people to get back to their fitness routines."
2 On Your Side reached out to the governor's office to find out their thoughts on increasing gym capacity, we did not hear back.