LOS ANGELES - The coronavirus epidemic has devastated many small businesses and one independent gym in Silver Lake is fighting for survival. Body Builders Gym has been a community institution since 1978, and emotions are running high for the owner, her family, and the loyal members of “BBG.”
The signs on the door says it all.
Jackie Joniec, owner of Body Builders Gym has been forced to keep her doors closed since March due to coronavirus guidelines in the state of California.
“When it shut down, it stunned me and I didn’t know what to do. A big part of my mental health…one doesn’t realize how important a routine is until you suddenly don’t have it,” she said.
Joniec and her two daughters have dubbed “BBG,” the title of “Friendliest gym in Los Angeles.”
“It’s not just to get buff, it really is a community unto itself. You get to know the staff, you get to know the members…everybody’s very friendly. This is like a second home…it’s really a family,” Joniec explained.
She says closing down independent gyms like hers in unfair and that they have taken all kinds of precautions to make the space safe.
“We had started to put up the partitions but we stopped because it was costing us and we weren’t able to open and I really feel like it's an essential business. It’s for your mental wellbeing,” she added.
The shutdown is costing her a fortune. Although she received some loan money, the debut keeps piling up.
She said the landlord is deferring her payments every month and is not willing to provide forgiveness or reduction.
In addition, she’s still having to pay property and liability insurance, utilities and taxes.
“It’s hard to keep hope alive,” she said.
However, they are getting creative just trying to survive, such as having bake sales.
While she faces the possibility of losing her life’s work, this Silver Lake neighborhood could see a community center that has been there for five decades stripped away.
“To lose it..it’s pretty tough. It’s hard to think of not having it not just from the economical standpoint but I think what it means to me and my family and everyone else in the community,” she said.