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Gyms are open, but NYC’s still killing the independent-fitness-studio industry

Mr. Mayor, let’s get this straight: Indoor dining, indoor swimming, facials and gym workouts all got the green light to reopen, but ­Pilates, yoga and high-intensity interval-training classes remain a no-go?

How does Gotham’s healthiest industry remain shut down, months after the pandemic peaked? Our industry’s mission is to keep New Yorkers healthy through these crazy times, and we, of all businesses, are shuttered and forgotten about.

It’s baffling.

We are racking up rent bills from months spent waiting for our turn to open, with exactly zero revenue coming in. And now it isn’t clear whether that turn will come in this calendar year or the next.

Restaurants’ struggles have been front-page news for months, schools are finally open and Broadway is getting its bailout. But since we lack the size, organization and lobbyists, we aren’t getting any attention from you or your administration. What do we need to do to get a chance at survival?

There are more than 7,000 boutique fitness studios in the Big Apple that employ more than 100,000 taxpaying New Yorkers. Well, actually, we should say that there were 7,000 studios pre-pandemic — now it’s more like 6,000, and if we can’t open up in the next month, it will be more like 5,000.

An industry that was born in 2006 in New York City is now at risk of dying in 2020 on your watch. All you have to do to save the industry is let us open up with the same guidelines as our gym friends. You have deemed them fit to open, and we are just as safe.

Today, someone can go to a gym and run on a treadmill six feet away from the next runner. But the moment an instructor enters the picture, that same activity is illegal.

Again, baffling and bizarre. Since when is fitness at the gym any safer than fitness classes? There is absolutely zero evidence of group fitness being any more of a risk than gym fitness.

We can and would require masks and social distance. We would limit equipment sharing. We would implement contact tracing and upgrade our air filters to ensure our staff and clients are safe. Please, give us a chance to show you — and a fighting chance to survive this pandemic.

You claim to be a champion of small businesses, women and minorities — and guess what? We are all of those things. Many of us founders of firms are women, and a majority of our staff and clientele are also women.

In fact, 80 percent of the New Yorkers we serve are female. We employ diverse staff in our studios and our offices, and a majority of those folks are still unemployed. Why is it that male-friendly gym workouts can resume, but workouts with stronger female appeal are banned?

The longer we are shuttered, the harder it will be to bring back our out-of-work employees and our clients who’ve had to find an alternative way to stay fit — or,

Heavy drinking is killing women in record numbers, and experts fear a COVID-related spike | Coronavirus

On her last day of consciousness, Misty Luminais Babin held onto hope. “I choose life,” the 38-year-old told her sister, husband and doctor from inside the Ochsner Medical Center ICU.

But her sister, Aimee Luminais Calamusa, knew it was a choice made too late. A former ICU nurse herself, she was trained to recognize signs of the end. Even after draining 3 liters of fluid from Babin’s abdomen, her liver — mottled and scarred by years of heavy drinking — couldn’t keep up. The fluid had started building up in her lungs and she gasped for air. Without oxygen, her other organs began to fail.

“When I left that day, I knew that would be the last time I talked to her, ever,” said Calamusa. “It was really hard to walk out that door.”

Babin died two days later, on June 14 of this year, after a long struggle with alcohol use disorder. Her family said the fight intensified in the last four or five years after a rough breakup, but may have been more stealthy and prevalent than they ever realized.

“None of us knew,” said Calamusa, who wrote a moving and honest obituary in The Times-Picayune | New Orleans Advocate about her sister’s struggles. “She hid it very well. I think she probably has been an addict for a long time. She lost control very quickly.”



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Misty Luminais Babin checked into the hospital a week before she died on June 14, 2020, after struggling with alcohol use disorder for years. Her family scattered her ashes on August 31, 2020, what would have been in 39th birthday, in her “thinking spot,” a quiet place along the Mississippi River. 




With an average of 1,591 alcohol-related deaths from 2011 to 2015, Louisiana is tied for 10th among U.S. states on a per-capita basis when it comes to people succumbing to the disease, according to a recent analysis of death certificates by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Across the country, alcohol-related deaths have risen by 51% over a period covering most of the past two decades, according to a study from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism published earlier this year.

The most alarming increase was among women. Deaths increased by 85% from 1999 to 2017.

And amid all-time high levels of anxiety and economic uncertainty, public-health experts fear that deaths like Babin’s will spike in the coming years. New data examining how drinking habits have changed during the pandemic showed drinking overall has increased by 14% compared with a year ago. In women, the increase was 17%, according to the peer-reviewed study published Sept. 29 in JAMA Network Open by researchers from the RAND Corporation.

Binge drinking in women, defined as four drinks over two hours, increased by 41% from 2019 to 2020. 

“Drinking by women is sort of overlooked,” said Michael Pollard, author of the JAMA study. “And this points out that it is a real concern. We don’t really have