Gym buffs, rejoice! Fitness centers in NYC finally reopen

A weight was lifted off of the city’s fitness fanatics Wednesday, as gyms were finally allowed to open across the five boroughs.

Workout  junkies lined up extra early at their beloved clubs for their first real dose of dopamine since the COVID-19 pandemic forced gyms to close roughly six months ago.

“I was counting down the time,” said mom-of-two Desiree Scruggs, 37, who was one of the first members inside Retro Fitness in Park Slope, which had a dozen people online before doors opened at 5 a.m.

“I’m excited to be back. I’ve been waiting all these months and now I’m here and I’m ready.”

Scruggs admitted the coronavirus crises turned her into a couch potato, estimating that she’s gained about 15 pounds since the pandemic forced gyms across the city to shutter in mid-March.

Gyms were allowed to reopen Wednesday at 33 percent capacity and strict mask requirements.

Places like Retro Fitness have other safety measures in place, like spaced out machines, hand sanitizer at the ready and temperature checks for staff members.

So far, customers have happily complied, said the franchise’s business coach Amanda Alfano.

“We are following every single rule,” she said. “No one is giving us a hard time about them. They understand this is what we have to do to stay open.”

Alfano said working out goes a long way now in terms of mental health.

“I think for people’s mental sanity, getting back in our health clubs is a really great way to be able to release some stress and get active,” she said.

Masked patrons were also pumping up at Blink Fitness in Harlem and at Power House Gym in Bayside — which even signed up six new members Wednesday.

“We had 76 [members] come in so far by 9:30 a.m.,” said owner Tommy DeCanio, 48, who opened his gym’s doors at 5 a.m.

He said gym rats are being given a bottle of disinfectant Selectrocide to wipe down their machines and that his cleaning crew will be working overtime to conduct deep cleanings at night.

A woman working out at The Retro Fitness Park.
A woman working out at The Retro Fitness Park.Paul Martinka

Coronavirus survivor and retired MTA worker Jimmy Lemmo, 58, said he lost 20 pounds from the virus but was back Wednesday cycling and pumping iron on the chest press and tricep extension machines.

“It feels really good to be back in the gym!” he said.

Asked how to feel safe while working out, he advised, “Just assume everything is filthy. I learned that working in the subway.”

Christine Haberlin, 19, who got a five-hour workout in at Power House beginning at 5 a.m., resorted to heading to Connecticut to hit the gym, which reopened there in June.

“When the gyms closed I had a breakdown, I cried every day,” she said. “This keeps me sane and builds my self esteem.”

Michel Nazamy, 35, was grateful to be back with her husband Nick sweating it out, especially with winter coming.

“There is only so much outdoor activities you can do and as it gets cold, it’ll be less and less!” she said. “Plus, my husband was losing his mind!”

Danny Suarez, 34, owner of Sage Fitness Studios in Astoria, said his gym — which relied heavily on personal and group training pre-pandemic — has been hit hard financially.

“We started doing (Instagram) live and the Zoom classes but there was no human connection and people were missing people,” he said.

Sage Fitness is now open but to reservations only to reduce the number of people inside. Suarez also started a “storefront workout” with a small group that’s a part-inside, part-outdoors session.

“We have 12 people — six people inside and six people outside and we have them alternating in circuits,” he explained.

Many patrons flocked to Sage on Wednesday after getting hooked on the gym’s Zoom workouts — but are happy to be getting the adrenaline flowing somewhere other than home.

“I am very excited,” said Natasha Lopez, 31. “I have been with them at the park workouts and it has saved my entire life. To be back in the facility is such a different experience. It feels like a different world.”

She said, however, that she felt comfortable with all the safety measures in place.

“It is a little uncomfortable to work out with masks but I feel everyone is following protocol, everyone is wearing masks and keeping socially distant and there is a sanitizing station so that helps,” Lopez added.

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