‘Safety first’: Fitness studio owners lament closure as they say others in industry are open despite COVID-19 restrictions

Marilyn Rohrbacher, owner of Move! Fitness Studio in Nevada City stands in front of its empty exercise room which has been closed since the coronavirus pandemic began a year ago. She was waiting to be allowed to resume indoor gym activities as only outdoor gym activities are currently allowed.
Photo credit: Elias Funez

Despite adapting everything they can, Move! Fitness Studio in Nevada City remains closed to customers.

According to owners Marilyn Rohrbacher and Wendy Riley, they have had to close twice now for over six months due to COVID-19 restrictions, losing about 75% of their income during that time.

“Our clients have been incredibly supportive of us throughout the process, and it’s just heartbreaking that we weren’t able to serve them,” said Riley. “Our fingers crossed, but it’s hard to keep the rent on an empty building. “

Training equipment remains inactive at Move! Fitness studio on Argall Way in Nevada City. Staff followed state guidelines and shut down due to the inability to organize activities inside.
Photo credit: Elias Funez

This week, Nevada County’s test positivity rate fell low enough to meet orange-level criteria of 3.5%, although case rates, at 11.3 new cases per day, keep the county in. the purple level.

Before reaching the orange level, it should first move to the red level by having a case rate of seven new cases or less per day and a positivity rate of less than 8% for two consecutive weeks.

But according to Rohrbacher, even if the county moved to the red level, allowing restaurants, cinemas and gymnasiums to open indoors with limited capacity, that probably wouldn’t be enough to keep them going.

Move! Fitness Studio in Nevada City is one of the local gyms that have closely followed state guidelines for reopening and are still closed until the county can level up.
Photo credit: Elias Funez

They tried it out when the county was in the red level last year, creating outdoor group activities and limiting their indoor space to two coaches and two clients at a time.

“Our demographic is the baby boomer generation, so we’re talking 60, 70, 80 years old. When the weather has cooled down, it’s just not something they’re happy to do. It’s not very comfortable for them, ”Rohrbacher said.

The couple said they now run morning walking sessions and keep in touch with their clients by phone, but other than that there’s not much they can do except wait for the county case and positivity rates. drop sufficiently.

Wendy Riley and Marilyn Rohrbacher, co-owners of Move! Fitness Studio in Nevada City, hopes to soon reopen its private training space. Until then, they follow state guidelines which state that no indoor gym activity is allowed.

“We look at the website every day hoping it turns from purple to red,” Riley said.

“It’s frustrating and confusing when we are very aware that we are one of the few gyms that is closed.”

Both owners said they are aware of other gyms and studios that have remained open, although they are only allowed outdoor activities in the purple level and hope others choose to follow the rules. .

Marilyn Rohrbacher, left, and Wendy Riley hope to be able to reopen their private training space soon.
Photo credit: Elias Funez

“We don’t want to be the gym cops,” Rohrbacher said. “We just hope and pray that everyone will do the right thing, but from what we understand this is not happening, so it leaves us very frustrated. But we don’t want to, we don’t want to have to apply for others. “


The county announced a new site this week – http://www.mynevadacounty.com/servicerequest – where residents can report service requests and concerns to the county, including complaints against businesses not complying with COVID-19 regulations. It replaces the Ask Nevada County app, which will no longer be served.

According to the acting director of the Mali LaGoe Community Development Agency, each complaint is followed by at least one letter to the company and is shared with the appropriate jurisdiction if it is within one of the city limits.

There have been more than 20 COVID-19-related complaints in each of the first three weeks of January, including 38 in the highest week, down from just 38 in total so far in February.

Over 80 complaints have been made in Grass Valley, just over 40 in Truckee, and less than 20 each in Nevada City and the Unincorporated County.

At the supervisory board meeting on Tuesday, some business owners and employees said they would continue to operate regardless of the restrictions, including Ken Paige of the Nevada County Restaurant Coalition.

“You can point to me as the instigator of all the problems you are facing, and I had no idea that any of this would happen,” Paige said. “But we rallied. We have 300 to 400 people now, we have a people war room. “

Paige said he is organizing to convince other business owners to join him in reopening against COVID-19 warrants, and feels discriminated against because big businesses have remained open.

“It’s going to take a bulldozer to bring us down, and we will continue to do what is necessary, safely and responsibly,” he said.

“We are going to reopen all our businesses, all our cities, we are not going to close. We just want you to join us in becoming like-minded, stable and savvy leaders. “

Riley and Rohrbacher say they’ve gotten help from their landlord and the Nevada County Relief Fund, and despite their struggles, they believe they’re doing what’s best for themselves, their clients, and the county.

“We’ve just chosen to do what we think is the right thing and that is to put safety above all, the well-being of our community above all, so that we can go through that and open everything safely.”

To contact Editor-in-Chief John Orona, email [email protected] or call 530-477-4229.

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