Los Angeles Fitness Community Goes Virtual After Coronavirus Gym Ban

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Workout programs loved by Gwyneth Paltrow, Busy Philipps, Beyoncé, Harry Styles and more stars are going online following Mayor Eric Garcetti's orders for exercise facilities to close.

Two staples of Los Angeles culture are being stifled by the outbreak of the coronavirus: fitness and film. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti ordered Sunday all movie theaters and gyms to close to prevent the spread of the virus, along with bars, restaurants and cafes, which can only continue takeout and delivery service. 

For the booming fitness industry in L.A., the ban means most trainers are taking their classes virtual. Ariana Grande even took to social media over the weekend to encourage fans to avoid in-person gym classes: "your hip hop yoga class can fucking wait i promise," she tweeted. Mindy Kaling put out the call Monday for a digital de-stressor, tweeting, "Can someone recommend a great at home online workout where I just need some hand weights and a mat. Also i have a treadmill. Not like bands and a trampoline please, I am only one human woman."

Among the gyms that are temporarily closed are all Equinox Club locations; 24 Hour Fitness centers; Orangetheory Fitness corporate-owned studios; SoulCycle locations in the U.S. and Canada; Rumble boxing locations; and LA Fitness clubs (the latter until at least April 1). 

Equinox Media recently rolled out a fitness platform called Variis to give on-demand access to brands Equinox, SoulCycle, PURE Yoga, Precision Run, Myodetox and HeadStrong (it began Friday for Equinox members). And for those missing their SoulCycle bikes, the company is selling an at-home SoulCycle bike for $2,500, powered by Variis, with a monthly membership of $40.

AARMY — a coaching experience co-founded by Akin Akman and Angela Davis, who works with Beyoncé and Oprah Winfrey — is offering daily practice sessions via Instagram Live that include its Bootcamp, Ab Challenge and Cycling programs.

On Monday, Davis hosted an AARMY cycle class at 9 a.m. and a daily inspiration session at 11 a.m. on Instagram. "With the unprecedented events facing us all, we have decided to temporarily cancel all AARMY practice sessions in both our N.Y. and L.A. locations for approximately the next two weeks," read a brand statement posted this weekend.  

The exclusive gym used by Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift, Dogpound, is offering FaceTime sessions and individualized at-home programming for its New York and L.A. clients, plus trainers are posting workouts for anyone at home.

Tracy Anderson, the workout master who has taught Gwyneth Paltrow and Jennifer Lopez, closed all her studios across New York, L.A. and Spain on Sunday. She is providing members with at-home services, such as the Tracy Anderson Online Studio, private online training sessions and virtual meetings with the Tracy Anderson Prescription Team for nutrition help. The Online Studio is offering a two-week free trial "for anyone looking for innovative at-home workouts," including dance cardio.  

Likewise, Busy Philipps' beloved LEKFIT studio is closed through March 31, but all digital programs are still available. It added a rental option of past weeks' workout videos ($6.99 for three days).

Barry's closed in the U.S., Canada and Europe on Sunday "in a proactive effort to help prevent the spread of COVID-19." The bootcamp brand (used by Jake Gyllenhaal and Harry Styles) is rolling out free Instagram TV workouts twice a day beginning Tuesday at 9 a.m. "We are committed to keeping our community safe, healthy, and strong during this difficult time," reads a statement from the company.

The governors of New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Ohio and Connecticut also closed down movie theaters and gyms this week in their states. There were about 4,400 reported cases of the coronavirus throughout 49 states as of Tuesday. 

On Friday, before the official ban, Halle Berry kicked off the at-home fitness trend on Instagram by posting workout videos featuring her and trainer Peter Lee Thomas. "I ask everyone to consider the health of not only themselves but of the people around them and to try a good old fashion at-home workout," the actress wrote. "Fancy equipment NOT required!" 

Others are still figuring out the best way forward. Training Mate, which has clients including Selena Gomez and Lucy Hale, is in the process of launching a streaming workout after being hit hard with no attendance. Costing $99 for nonmembers to join, it will launch Tuesday with prerecorded content and next week with live classes. The founders are forgoing their salary and paying trainers 75 percent of their normal pay to make ends meet.

WundaBar Pilates is offering a 40 percent discount to attract health-conscious social distancers to its on-demand workouts. Company fans include Vanessa Hudgens and Ashley Tisdale, who posted on TikTok that her "work out while on self quarantine" is dancing to "We're All in This Together" from High School Musical and wearing a tie-dye sweat suit. "I can't believe I remembered it," Tisdale wrote.

Meanwhile, the Tone It Up app is free until April 13 to new users "so that everyone can make being at home a little more comfortable during this time of crisis," according to a brand rep. Planet Fitness is hosting free live stream classes on Facebook daily at 5 p.m. while L.A. pilates studio Mind & Motion is holding classes through video site Zoom. 

On Instagram, L.A. trainer Craig Johns Jr. explained his decision to offer virtual coaching. "This is a particularly stressful time for anyone in the music and/or fitness industry (among others) as things start to slow down and close," he wrote. "In an effort to keep my head above water, as well as to continue to help people through fitness, i’m going to be offering VIRTUAL COACHING! now more than ever, it’s important to move our bodies and stay healthy, and i’m really excited to offer this option for those who can’t train with me in person."

He said the service, which can be at-home friendly, will include a video chat assessment, nutritional guidelines and a customized workout plan. 

Last updated March 18 at 11:50 a.m.