Mayor Bill de Blasio wasn’t the only New Yorker who squeezed in an 11th-hour workout before gyms shut down in New York and elsewhere, along with movie theaters and nightclubs, at 8 p.m. on Monday.
Was it irresponsible to still be going? Many would make that argument, but the floor at the Chelsea-Flatiron location of Complete Body, a popular spot for bodybuilders and fitness models, had more than 20 people working away around 5 p.m.
Galen Lam, 42, was at a rowing machine in a blue tank top and navy shorts. He said he had no doubt that the new coronavirus is “highly contagious” but added that he was washing his hands frequently.
More than being afraid of getting sick, he was peeved that President Trump had not instituted travel restrictions and gotten testing ready two months ago, rather than implementing what Mr. Lam called a bunch of “last-minute emergency” plans.
Greg Cirulnick, 39, said he had wiped down every piece of machinery before and after he used it. He posited that since the new coronavirus appears to spread through saliva and not sweat, the gym may not be substantially more hazardous to his health than going to a grocery store. The subway may even be worse.
Certainly, Mr. Cirulnick said, “I’d rather not get pneumonia and be on my back.” Still, he didn’t think, given his age and great health, that he was going to be one of the disease’s fatalities, or that he should give up going to the gym.
Romy Erickson, 30, who was at the leg press with Beats headphones and a bottle of alcohol-based sanitizer, admitted that hitting the gym may not be the right thing to do. It was just that she couldn’t imagine giving up the gym, except by force.
Many felt similarly, which is why Leo Pacheco, one of the gym’s most booked trainers, was considering decamping to Miami, where a gym ban isn’t in place yet.
Mr. Pacheco wasn’t convinced the lockdown on gyms was truly about protecting people’s health; not after so much government inaction. He also found it strange that the one client who was the most panicked over the last two weeks was a financial type who was freaking out over his investment portfolio.
Other gyms in the neighborhood also had some last-minute customers.
At Crunch on West 23rd Street, there were hulking men spotted through the windows. More than a dozen people exited and entered the Equinox on Broadway near 19th Street.
This happens to be the same facility whose management sent a notice to members on Sunday that one member had tested positive for the virus.
A reporter asked an exiting patron what it felt like to be there. “Like I’m committing a crime,” she said.
That was why she didn’t want her name used in this article.
Up walked another woman. She didn’t want to be outed as a last-minute gym visitor either. “My family doesn’t know I’m here,” she said. “They’d kill me if they did.”