The year of Covid, 2020, wreaked havoc on small businesses/organizations. “Weathering the Storm” will profile local businesses in an attempt to celebrate survival and the promise of calmer seas on the horizon. We ask about the enormous challenges they faced, how businesses adapted, what the future holds, and ultimately how, as a community, we may help them rise above the tides.
Lisa Wales, left, Leap trainer with a client
At 46 Tioga Way, a Marblehead landmark has served fitness fanatics for more than 30 years. Hervé Sedky and his wife, Heidi, have owned Leap Fitness since 2013 and recalled the pain of having to shut their doors last March–for the unforeseeable future.
Staying relevant in 2020 became the motto for the fitness industry in the face of the pandemic. Adding to the chaos were government mandates dictating closures of all nonessential public places. Health and fitness clubs around the world were hit hard.
The first few months were tumultuous as memberships were canceled and the idea of safely returning to the gym seemed like fantasy. Sedky was determined to continue paying their employees during the closure, which ultimately lasted four months, March through July of 2020. Keeping Leap staff employed was nonnegotiable.
“Leap is not just a gym in Marblehead – we are part of the community. Our employees are at the heart of everything we do,” said Sedky.
Sedky’s optimism helped him to view the shutdown as a time to consider how he could help his customers. His first step was turning the state mandates into opportunities to think differently about what Leap members really needed.
“If we couldn’t have our classes in the gym, let’s move them online,” Sedky offered. Along with online classes, Leap began offering outdoor classes, weather permitting.
To address the needs of the many young adults displaced by the pandemic, a host of student classes were also added to the schedule.
“Young people – more than ever – needed an outlet for all the anxiety they’re facing,” said Sedky.
The four months of closure also provided an opportunity for Sedky to invest in the facility itself. That investment ultimately came in the form of an overhaul.
“We began prioritizing several projects we would not have undertaken if the club was open,” recalls Sedky.
Leap was essentially refurbished with sanitizing, repairs, repainting, and an entirely new exhaust system. In an effort to increase the club’s offerings, Dr. Allison Riley, founder of Stride Physical Therapy & Wellness, was brought on board to offer Leap patrons onsite physical therapy.
By July of 2020, Leap owners felt ready to reopen their doors with both caution and optimism about the future.
“Given that we are living in the midst of a global pandemic we take safety very seriously. We want our members to walk into the gym and feel they can work out without feeling anxious,” says Sedky.
Protocols in place at Leap include providing clients face masks, enforced social distancing, hand sanitizer throughout the premises, checking members’ temperature upon entry, and staff dedicated to thoroughly wiping down equipment several times a day. Sedky says Leap is fully equipped to conduct contact tracing should it be needed.
As with most small businesses, Leap incurred a financial loss this past year. But Sedky is hopeful that his business will not only survive but thrive.
“As a local, family-run business, we are a committed team who care deeply about making our members’ experience the best it can be.”
Sedky also gives thanks to “a great landlord,” Ted Moore.
Leap has seen an uptick in new members for the first time and remains hopeful that patrons who were unable to maintain their memberships will return when they are comfortable.
“Our ties to Marblehead are strong – we have lived here for almost two decades and are humbled to be able to offer a healthy escape from the ongoing anxiety we are all feeling during the pandemic,” says Sedky.
Sedky encourages the community to come see their new look when they feel it’s safe to do so, and check out the vast array of online classes by visiting their website, www.leapfitclubs.com and follow them on Instagram, leapfitnessmarblehead
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Leap members using protocols