As the number of Coronavirus cases rose in South Florida over the recent weeks, tension also began to rise, not only among residents but businesses who are once again finding themselves in limbo due to the second round of mandatory curfews and shutdowns.
Nearly $1billion in COVID-19 aid has been allocated to Miami-Dade, yet the struggle continues between the Mayor’s office and local cities and municipalities on how these funds should be allocated. Approximately $474 Million has been marked as unrestricted funding to be distributed to local government entities that have incurred expenses due to COVID-19 and to aid those directly impacted by the pandemic.
Many news sources speculate that massive layoffs are imminent within the hospitality industry, which is considered a crucial source of South Florida’s economy. But what about the masses of small, local businesses that have been the foundation of economic prosperity in South Florida? Some, after many years in business, are closing their doors and new businesses that opened right before they pandemic never had a chance. Where does the fitness industry fit in during these times of economic calamity?
Prior to COVID-19’s arrival in South Florida, boutique fitness studios, health and wellness events, and personal training were on the rise with many of them being first-time business/franchise owners. The devastating impacts of the pandemic and the back and forth waves of re-opening then closing again has left these business owners with little hope of survival. Right now, the only solution seems to be to request local governments that they be included in discussions pertaining to COVID-19 relief funding, hence, the creation of the Miami-Dade County Wellness Coalition.
“The financial implications of our industry are severe,” said Guido Trinidad, Owner & Head Coach at Peak360 Fitness in South Miami. “We are operating at approximately 50% of the revenue we normally did before COVID-19. Our expenses certainly have not dropped by that degree. If the government is bailing out other industries; the health and fitness industry should not only be included but at the top of the list."
South Florida non-profits are being encouraged to partner up with other local non-profits in an effort to leverage their resources and donations. In many cases the health and wellness industry works hand-in-hand with the hospitality sector by hosting events at their hotels, setting up personal training for guests, inviting fitness instructors to teach various classes, as well as maintaining a permanent relationship with gym owners and franchisees to take up permanent residence within their hotels.
The fact of the matter is that politicians need to see past the immediate reparations the stimulus will provide to their communities but rather view the long-term effects it will have through a holistic lens. Everyone, at some point, will be impacted by this pandemic in one way or another and the stressors that come along with it. Data is already reflecting huge spikes in mental and physical health crisis, food insecurity, and education. Many are and will seek out resources to improve their overall wellbeing, beyond the walls of the healthcare system and who better than the health and wellness industry, as the essential group that they are, to serve them.
“Health, fitness, and overall wellness are the most natural and proactive measures we can take to defend, fight, and beat COVID-19,” said Trinidad. “Shouldn’t our local government invest in the local businesses that not only stimulate the economy, but more importantly, are on the front lines leading our community towards building stronger immunity against this virus.”