Locally-owned fitness studio continues mostly outdoor classes, says 30 percent capacity inside won’t profit

Updated: Sep. 7, 2020 at 4:54 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Gyms and fitness facilities can now reopen at 30 percent capacity per North Carolina’s Phase 2.5.

However, as some fitness centers are busy opening their doors, other smaller group fitness classes are still facing challenges.

Owners of boutique fitness classes, like Sweat Method in South End, say a typical class is at most 25 people. With the capacity of classes restricted to just 30 percent, only a handful of people are allowed inside the class, which greatly limits profits.

Sweat Method does plan on reopening their indoor classes but only for classes before 8 a.m. because of a local noise ordinance. Otherwise, they’re sticking with their outdoor classes because they can safely host more people.

“The thing I like about this 2.5, it’s giving people a steppingstone. It’s giving us a steppingstone to show them we’re going to be cleaning, we’re going to be spacing you out,” said co-owner Halle Hillman, who opened Sweat Method just eight months before things had to shut down.

“Thirty percent doesn’t do much for us. Until he gets closer to 75 percent, a majority of our classes will stay outdoors,” said the other co-owner Justin Gordon.

That decision all comes down to math for Hillman and Gordon, both first-time business owners.

“The average group fitness class facility can hold between 15 and 25 people if you’re getting in around 6 to10 people for a class. The money-making situation doesn’t make sense for a business to open,” Hillman said.

Thankfully, they say their outdoor classes have been a success. Sweat Method has been holding 30 minute HIIT workouts in their parking lot since May.

“Ten people turned into 25 with 6 feet between. Then it turned into 28 classes per week which almost everyone selling out,” Hillman said.

For now, Hillman says Sweat Method clients want to stay outside, saying that’s where they feel safest. But she says they’re happy to start easing in the process for others.

“It’s more of we know you don’t want to go 0-100, it’s giving us more of a chance to have more classes but also test-run what it’s going to look like when we do get to a 75 percent, 100 percent capacity,” she said.

The owners say they are lucky because they have a huge parking lot to work with. Not every boutique fitness studio is the same. They’re worried about other businesses in the community.

Gordon says Sweat Method plans to stay with outdoor classes for the majority of classes until it gets too cold. They’re hoping capacity restrictions will be lifted before winter.

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