When the news came down from Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday that all non-essential businesses must temporarily close their doors in order to slow the spread of COVID-19, Double Play Community Center executive director and founder Dan Myers was devastated.
Double Play, located in Lowville, is a fitness haven for 600-plus people throughout Lewis and Jefferson counties.
“It was devastating on many levels, more so for the members that we have because this is such an essential element of their lifestyle, from a quality of life standpoint and their ability to stay healthy,” Myers said.
“For that to be taken away, it was the one thing you thought would help their immune system and help their healthy lifestyle. It really put a damper on that, especially with the weather not really turning yet, it makes it kind of difficult for them to go out and do things.”
Double Play Community Center focuses on resistance training as well, which is different than what is done at a typical gym. It’s also been a place for senior citizens to stay active and healthy.
“Resistance training and stuff like that is a lot different than just going out and going for a walk,” Myers said. “The equipment and things that a gym provides and the programming that we provide, especially for senior citizens, it’s kind of essential. So, the seniors can’t go out and walk on the sidewalks, but they can come in and do our programs that we offer free for them.”
Star Spangled Crossfit at the Northland Plaza in Watertown also reluctantly closed its doors, forcing about 100 dedicated members to conduct the taxing workouts on their own.
“We definitely miss it. You always work harder when there are other people around,” said Leo Rogers, co-owner of Star Spangled Crossfit. “Everybody understands what’s going on. If we can get through this, we’ll be better for it in the future.”
Crossfit members often follow a specific “workout of the day,” or “WOD,” and then record the completion of that workout at the gym.
With no gym available, Rogers and other Star Spangled Crossfit coaches have been posting WODs on their Facebook and Instagram pages and then members record the completion of the workouts on social media, too.
Rogers, who owns the business with Jerry Vecchio, has also been allowing members to take equipment from the gym to conduct workouts at home. He said he cleans the equipment before people pick it up and members have taken home everything from barbells to rowing machines.
“I was very happy to see that,” said Star Spangled Crossfit member Daniel Kuebler, who brought home barbells, a dumbbell and a crossfit box and cleared out her garage for workouts. “I’m sure they’re worried about their business and other things. It was really generous of them to do that.”
Rogers said that as the coronavirus began to spread, fewer people came to the gym. Then he kept the place open only for coaches and for no more than 10 people at time before he was told to close.
Rogers said that members pay monthly but in the current atmosphere he isn’t concerned if someone is unable to make their payment. He said a couple of people have canceled memberships since the outbreak.
Meanwhile, SSCF members communicate online on the site’s web page, and Rogers said he is going to try to set up Zoom, the web-based video conference app, to foster communication for members of a sport that is known for thriving in a group setting.
“That’s why crossfit is so unique,” said Kuebler, who went to the gym four times a week. “I’m one of those people who loves the daily workouts and being there with someone else that can give you that push.”
Double Play recently posted on its Facebook page that the fitness center will be offering free at-home workouts through video chat or phone call. If clients lack the proper equipment, Myers suggests using whatever they have in their home.
“Individually people can message us and we can see work with them to see what they have at home, and often times we can just use body weight or we can just use a couch or a table that they can do pushups on or walking lunges,” Myers said. “Anything that can help with some sort of resistance training and some sort of fitness if they can’t get out and do things.”
Myers and Double Play personal trainer Brannon Cathey are continually working on new ways to reach out and help clients while the fitness center is closed.
“We’re saying ‘What do you have in your house?’ we can do soup cans, we can do gallon jugs filled with water,” Myers said. “It’s anything we can do to help our clientele when they can’t come in to do something, it’s gives them the opportunity to do something and stay healthy.”
With no clients entering, Myers is also using the time to improve Double Play’s physical space. This includes redoing some of the front foyer along with some touch-up painting.
Rogers has been an owner of SSCF since 2013 and it’s now the only crossfit-exclusive gym in Watertown. He said they have the ability to survive through the pandemic over the next few months.
“We’ve really got a good group, a core group of people and as long as we can keep the light on we’ll be there for them,” Rogers said.