CORNWALL – With barbells, squat racks, bench presses and rowers spaced out in a parking lot, Joe Sardone has set up an outdoor gym for people to work out. It’s his response to the fact that fitness facilities have been excluded from reopening during the coronavirus pandemic.
Sardone, owner of Rapid Fire Fitness, has been offering free virtual workouts since all gyms in the state were ordered to shut down in mid-March. He started moving the equipment outdoors after he had noticed attendance for the online workouts had begun to drop.
“Everybody just wants to get out as the weather gets nice. I have been trying to figure out how to get people more involved,” Sardone said.
The outdoor open gym is open to the public from Mondays through Fridays, and fitness classes are offered on weekends at reduced capacity. The cost is $5, and registering ahead of time is required. Workout advice and tips are also available during the sessions.
While membership has been frozen since April, Sardone said the business is staying afloat. He hopes to keep expanding classes and building momentum each week until people are allowed to get back indoor.
Lisa Mackey of Cornwall, who has attended every day since the outdoor gym started last week, said she was thrilled and could not wait to get back. For her, the gym is more like a big family where she finds confidence and inspiration.
“It was like getting tickets to an almost sold-out concert. It was very hot on the first day but I wasn’t hesitant to come because I knew Joe would respect the guidelines and I would be extremely safe in that environment,” said Mackey.
While face masks are not mandated during the workout, precautions such as temperature checks, frequent sanitization and social distancing are in place.
Mackey said the only thing bugs her is that session might be canceled if the weather is against it down the road.
“The sooner the better that we can get back to the gym more so because I like the idea of knowing that once we are back in the gym it means that we’ve progressed through the pandemic,” said Mackey.