When Kim Heinz, owner of Kim’s Karate and Kickboxing in Mastic, noticed a drop-off in the number of young students coming to class last week — even before many schools announced they would close due to concerns about the coronavirus — the Army veteran’s training kicked into gear and she began to plan for a worst-case scenario.
Heinz, 42, who grew up only a few blocks from the dojo on Montauk Highway and now lives in Manorville, officially closed on Monday, but is keeping her students — ages 3 and up — engaged with Facebook video tutorials and challenges.
“If I keep showing my face, we don’t need to be here,” Heinz, whose business is based on membership fees, said from her dojo after a workout. “We can get through this.”
In response to her videos, some students are posting their own videos to show how they are keeping up with practicing the Isshinryu style of karate that the dojo follows. The style, which originated in Okinawa, Japan, means “one heart way.”
“I’ve gotten a lot of feedback from even non-students to thank me for motivating them to keep up with this,” Heinz said.
Other fitness operators in the area are trying to establish ways to keep clients engaged, or are focusing on areas of specialty.
Amanda Mercurio, 27, of Center Moriches, who opened AM Fitness & Cycle, a cycling and strength training studio in the Old Neck Market Shopping Center in Center Moriches with her husband, Michael, in December, has closed the studio and frozen membership fees.
In hopes that she’ll make up some of the loss, she’s launching live one-one-one training sessions via FaceTime or Zoom calls. The sessions would be either with her or one of her trainers and could include small groups, so long as clients follow the proper precautions on the other end of the call.
“I can even do a multiway chat,” Mercurio said. “As long as technology will allow it, I’m pretty much open to try things.”
Mercurio said she was thinking about offering virtual training, anyway, because she is familiar with colleagues in the industry who provide it.
Maria Faller, who runs Be A Better Fitness out of her home in Center Moriches, stopped training clients on Friday and is now focusing on freelance writing, including for GreaterMoriches, and helping clients plan diet and fitness schedules.
“There’s so much competition for online fitness training,” said Faller, who specializes in nutrition, weight loss and fitness — especially for those with autoimmune diseases, celiac disease and food allergies.
Faller is a GreaterMoriches fitness and nutrition columnist.
“As much I love all my clients, you can’t know who they’ve been exposed to,” Faller said, adding, “I think people are really trying to gather themselves. I think people are really trying to wrap their heads around this. I think we are supportive of each other, we will get through this together.”
In the meantime, “I’m offering them heavily discounted rates for personalized home fitness plans and personalized nutrition plans,” she said.
Heinz, the karate sensei, said she’s “just taking it week by week.”
“I had a few students say they are concerned about returning,” she said. “If I do open, everything is sanitized. I just want to ensure that this is a clean, safe, environment. But like I say, I’m just playing it by ear. I don’t know if there’s going to be a directive to keep everything shut down. If I can’t have classes, I’m going to keep doing Facebook.”