Mike Porcaro lifts weights outside MX3 Fitness along Market Street in the Castro on Wednesday, July 29, 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Discounted outdoor spaces offered to struggling gyms, fitness studios

Fitness studios in San Francisco struggling during the pandemic will soon be able get permits to use outdoor spaces at discounted rates, city officials announced Friday.

While gyms are prohibited from operating indoors under the shelter-in-place order, The City’s Recreation and Park Department has proposed a program allowing gyms to hold outdoor classes in areas like parks, basketball courts, lawns and plazas.

The licensing costs would be reduced by more than 90 percent under the program, which will launch on September 13 after approval.

While a handful of gyms and fitness studios have found ways to create outdoor spaces to maintain operations, many others have closed or are on the brink of closure due to the extended shelter-in-place order.

“Like parks themselves, fitness classes promote physical health and mental wellbeing—something we could all use right now,” Phil Ginsburg, the general manager of the Recreation and Park Department, said in a statement. “This program would allow fitness providers with closed storefronts an inexpensive way to hold classes again while allocating space in a fair and transparent way.”

Until indoor operations of gyms can resume, instructors who train up to three clients at a time and don’t require a designated space, can pay for an annual permit for $25, down from $250. The program would grant instructors who require a designated space in park spaces and lead classes of four to 11 people a spot for 10 weeks, dropping the cost to $1.25 from $15 an hour. And The City will grant two-hour training blocks through a lottery system.

Dave Karraker, a representative of the San Francisco Independent Fitness Studio Coalition, that represents more than 60 fitness studios in The City, said that gym owners would prefer The City to provide outdoor spaces free of charge. However he acknowledged the efforts of the Recreation and Park Department in proposing the program.

“We’ll take what we can get to try to generate some revenue,” Karraker said.


This story has been updated with additional comments

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