Several of the bigger and more visible fitness centers in the region are taking various approaches to helping people in the region stay fit during the Covid-19 pandemic.
They’re also looking to work with members who can’t use facilities that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo ordered closed March 16, when the crisis began to intensify in New York State.
Here’s a snapshot.
The locally owned fitness center chain stopped billing members on April 1 and will not resume until its locations reopen. “We're doing our best to connect our staff with resources to help them through this pandemic,” owners Joe and Amy Bueme told members on their Covid-19 Response tab at catalystfitnessbuffalo.com. “We are doing our part by continuing to pay their health insurance in full, with no premium while they are out of work.” The online section of the website also includes a link to free Les Mills training videos.
Cheryl Erbacher and Jocelyn Kowalczyk forged this organization several years ago to promote health and healing through yoga. They don’t have a studio, choosing instead to lead wellness retreats, lead classes in other venues and collaborate with other yoga enthusiasts online.
Erbacher is teaching virtual classes to M&T Bank employees and SUNY Buffalo State students and staff during the crisis. She and Kowalczyk have sprinkled virtual workout videos in the Free Flow section of their website at healbflo.com. All can access the workouts free, though they are encouraged to make a donation through Venmo to any small business in the region that had to shut down during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The partners also urged others to take online classes with regional studios charging a small fee for that service.
“We've gotten so much response about how good it feels just to connect visually with other people,” Erbacher said.
Jada Blitz Fitness
The full-service fitness center moved into the former BAC Eastern Hills location in Clarence only 3½ months before Covid-19 closed it temporarily. The fitness center looked to support its employees by offering customers one free training session for those who buy four others to help put more money into the pockets of its trainers. Its brand manager also created a “City of Good Neighbors, Family of Strong Hearts” T-shirt that can be preordered for $20 at the Shop tab at jadablitzfitness.com, with 70% of proceeds going to a fund split equally between employees.
Co-owner Ashley Draper said she and her husband, Justin have frozen membership dues until Jada Blitz can reopen.
They have been renting out equipment to members and non-members to use at home, including group cycle bikes. They have created a virtual group to stream live classes and classes on demand, and are streaming live fitness classes daily on fitness center social media platforms.
Meanwhile, their Balanced Body Foods healthy to-go meals remain available; free home delivery is offered for those using code UNITE2020 online at balancedbodyfoods.com.
Jewish Community Center of Greater Buffalo
Staff members have been busy creating videos for the agency’s early childhood education participants, fitness enthusiasts, cultural arts aficionados and others, Executive Director Rick Zakalik said last week at jccbuffalo.org. He thanked the vast majority of members who have allowed the JCC to continue to receive monthly dues payments and program fees, which are helping with expenses, payroll and health insurance for staff. The organization will also provide up to six months of free membership to those who provide evidence of layoff or termination because of the nationwide shutdown.
The JCC also is providing free fitness classes on its website homepage through the Zoom Fitness Classes tab.
The international chain says on its website, lafitness.com, that it has suspended billings in New York State and other places where its fitness centers have temporarily closed. The chain will resume charging membership fees as clubs reopen.
YMCA Buffalo Niagara
The YMCA is encouraging its members to maintain memberships so it can serve the childcare needs of health care workers and first responders in the region. During this time, the Y is busy reaching out to seniors and vulnerable populations, organizing local blood drives, and providing meals for children in need. The YMCA welcomes all to take a series of fitness classes free at ymcabuffaloniagara.org/wellness/your-virtual-y, where there are also family activities, educational resources, and social groups to help keep you healthy, active and connected.