TRENTON, NJ – Gym and indoor training based businesses are now dropping like flies as business owners edge closer to paying their fourth consecutive month of bills and rent with no customers. Several weeks ago, the governor said he would not create any kind of security blanket for small businesses in the form of rent or lease forbearance. On Thursday, Murphy said the continued gym and indoor training lockdown is not a life sentence for struggling business owners in dire straits.
No, it’s become a death sentence for many.
Small gyms and indoor sports facilities are shutting down in increasing numbers permanently as Murphy continues his chokehold on the industry. Small mom and pop gym owners are just walking away from their extended losses and even some chains are starting to feel the pressure.
This week, Tilton Fitness, which operates 7 gyms statewide announced its permanent closure. 24-Hour Fitness, a nationwide chain with a New Jersey facility announced it filed for bankruptcy. The Parsipanny Retro Fitness franchise has shuttered its doors. Gold’s Gym filed for bankruptcy. These horrendous closures come as the industry on whole is growing and booming. People are building their own at-home gyms and others are just finding other ways to stay fit, while their own discretionary budgets are rapidly shrinking.
“These are not forever and always life sentences here in terms of the closures, and I want to make sure people know that and they hear that,” Murphy said. “We hope, if we continue to make progress, we hope to be able to continue to address indoor venues, and gyms are hard. They’re just hard. There’s no other way to put it. Right now we’ve signal that if you’re in there by yourself or with family members, and Judy’s going to give guidance to this, that that’s okay, but only you. And over time, believe me, we want to be able to open this up. Fitness is a big part of not just our physical health but our mental health.”
Murphy made a point to recognize gyms that have been defiant with his orders in protest.
“Yeah, I mean, on both, again, I’ve got — I mean, there have been a couple of gym owners who have been deliberately non-compliant and aggressive, shall we say? But overwhelmingly, folks have not. It’s painful as heck for them. We have nothing but sympathy for that, I promise you,” he said. “Gyms are really, particularly a gym with a regular capacity, is a really hard one, I know, from the health side. You’ve got sweating, grunting, you’ve got a lot of stuff going on which not only are you indoors, close, etc. I promise you, we’ll try to get there as fast as we can.”
This week, Murphy allowed one-on-one personal training to occur indoors at gyms, but at this point, it’s too little, too late to save many gyms who most likely can’t absorb another month’s rent when July 1st comes around.