Gyms in Central Florida struggle as they reopen amid the pandemic

Slowly but surely, fitness is coming back into fashion across Florida.

At Orlando’s Orange Avenue Gym, owners Alex Silva and Rodney Croskey said they were working hard to get their members back in the door. They were not seeing the number they used to, though.

“Forty percent,” Silva said, “a shy forty percent.”

The small, neighborhood gym’s owners said they were doing everything they could to stay clean.

“We want people to feel safe to come back and work in our community. So that's our goal to make people come back here, and make them feel safe, is the most important thing,” Croskey said.

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It has been a struggle for many gyms to get back on their feet. Gold's Gym has filed for chapter 11 protection, closing many of their gyms. 24 Hour Fitness is also closing gyms across the country, including one south of downtown Orlando. They said they were shuttering locations that were either out-of-date or too close to their other, existing gyms. 24 Hour Fitness still has six other gyms around Orlando. They said the move would help them restructure.

Back at the Orange Avenue Gym, member Pat Killeavy said it was good to get back to the gym.

“I have some home workout equipment but I like going to the gym because people push me, being in that environment. Just gotta be careful, bring hand sanitizer, wipe off the equipment, make sure everyone else is doing it,” he said.

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Killeavy said it was time to lose some of those shutdown pounds. “It was hard with all the gyms being closed, a lot of my friends said they gained 10-15 lbs during this whole thing, so we were trying to find something to do in this whole thing during it.”