Updated: Sep 18, 2020
“In some ways, the pandemic is bringing out the best in people,” says Kurt Schneiter, co-owner of Iconix Fitness in Belmont Shore. “Nearby 2nd Street is more vibrant now with people utilizing the outdoors more. Belmont Shore just looks more fun and inviting as a whole.” Beyond that he says that one thing that he’s really noticed is how people are being nicer to each other these days. “I feel we are more grateful for human interaction. Our members are just happy to be here and able to work out even if it’s outside and with restrictions.”
Iconix is well into month two of their extensive outdoor gym space they’re calling “The Yard”. It’s a 300 ft long strip of outdoor workout space in front of Iconix on East Olympic Plaza. But it’s not just a few old machines rolled out onto asphalt. “That just wouldn’t be on brand,” says co-owner Jarrett Tooley. “We’re known for having the best equipment and staff who are dedicated to take care of our members.” Instead, they had to do it the Iconix way. They bought brand-new, top of the market machines and equipment and rolled out artificial turf. And by the way, it happens to be on some of the most sought after coastal real estate in the city, with a view of the Pacific Ocean with its beautiful sunsets and a refreshing ocean breeze.
Between The Yard, which also has a designated space for classes, their side alley for training, their rooftop for open workouts including cardio machines and classes including cycling, and their yoga in the park, Iconix is operating with about 10,000 sq ft of outdoor space. For all intents and purpose, it is a fully equipped gym operating like a well-oiled machine.
Now the question we get is “Are we going to keep The Yard?” say Schneiter and Tooley. They agree that they will likely keep it up until they can allow full indoor use at which point they will warehouse the equipment to either use for pop-up events or at one of their upcoming new facilities. “Ideally we would like to permanently have The Yard every year spring through fall,” say Schneiter.
Utilizing the outdoor space has always been a priority for the gym and they’re discovering even more advantages to working out at the beach.
“Our rooftop classes have been an absolute success,” says Schneiter. That is something they will consider keeping. Pre-pandemic, their rooftop ‘Wine Down Wednesdays’, which featured yoga followed by a glass of wine was a member favorite and they hope to adapt and start having events again soon.
Cleanliness has always been a top priority for Iconix and more so now than ever. They are proud to be sanitizing the facility with a disinfectant that has been proven to kill the virus on contact and is effective for two months after application. The owners take the virus very seriously especially since both have had family members affected by COVID-19, most notably Schneiter’s mother-in-law who passed away in April from the virus after contracting it at an assisted living facility in Long Beach. One thing Schneiter and Tooley note, as the owners of a health club, is how much they hope society takes a healthy lifestyle more seriously in years to come. “Obesity is an epidemic in America that is one of the major factors we have seen that puts someone at greater risk of the Coronavirus and so many diseases,” notes Schneiter. An active lifestyle contributes to not only ones physical health but also their emotional health.
“I can’t tell you how many members have come up to me and thanked us for reopening the gym,” says Tooley. “Some have confided in me they have been battling depression during the quarantine, people who you would never think have such a problem.”
“Depression, stress and anxiety are a real concern and should be taken as seriously as any other health concerns. Physical activity such as weight training and cardio mixed with the social component of a gym are extremely beneficial. Depression has no economic or ethnic barriers. It strikes far and wide and I’ve learned a lot about what a toll it can take on people this year. Without routine physical activity, many members admitted they spent their time on activities and using substances that negatively impacted their lives. To spin it positive, they’re glad to be back at the gym,” says Schneiter. He believes that for now The Yard isn’t just doing wonders for his gym, but for the community as a whole.
All over Long Beach, parklets, parks, beaches and outdoor activity are giving Long Beach hope and cheering them up during these isolating times. Iconix is thrilled to be a part of the solution, adding in safe physical activity to the mix.