WGN NEWS & A letter to the fitness community by: Josh Siroko

May 7, 2020

We are honored to be on WGN News to talk about reopening in a safe manner as curve continues to flatten. Want to read the full article? Click here! Below is a little letter from Co-owner, Josh Siroko.

 

To all my fellow Gym Owners, Gym Enthusiasts, and Average Joe’s-

What is normal now? Streaming services have replaced in person interaction. Zoom was once something just reserved for corporate settings and is now the go to happy hour destination. Where we as gym owners spent countless hours (and dollars) on setting our facilities apart through amenities and aesthetics, we are now streaming classes from our not so glamorous living rooms. There is an unfortunate truth to this new normal: motivation is most definitely lacking and attrition is at an all-time high. 

The last few months demonstrated the perfect storm of unexpected, underprepared, and overwhelmed families, friends, and businesses. Whether you are an avid gym goer or an industry professional, you know the Chicago Fitness Community is mighty. We are a ‘family’ of intermingling groups and individuals that exude friendship through exercise, fun, and progress. Just as real families have been quarantined apart, we yearn to be in each other’s presence once again. 

For those of us who have lost [anything] the uncertainty of the future is daunting. For those of us lucky enough to come out of this unscathed, the assault on our ‘normal lives’ will definitely leave scars. To be honest, the uncertainty of what is on the horizon may be more intimidating as it is unclear if we can confidently say we will ever return to normal. 

Through the fear and sadness shine hope and kindness. I witnessed streets blocked by lines of cars all waiting to honk and wish happiness on an unexpecting birthday girl. Her ear to ear smile would bring light to the darkest day and is a reminder of the power of community. I too received ‘drive-in’ birthday wishes at a time I began to assimilate into the emotional nothingness of our very own version of ‘Ground Hog Day’. Members of this community, many stricken by hardship, are continuing to offer their help with donations or continuing their dues, all to make sure their favorite places are there when doors open. Human positivity and kindness are powerful weapons; they can pierce through even the saddest situations. This, along with the hopeful reminder of [fingers crossed] ‘SummerTimeChi’ has us coasting along with anticipation that this is almost over.

We’ve seen long time pillars of the community shutter, and others look on, quivering at the thought they could be next. How long can this last?  As many display concern about if they will be able to weather the storm, others adapt and plan for the future. Our brick and mortar kingdoms have taken to the airwaves in the form of Podcasts, Live Classes, and Online Programming; we are evolving and we hope it is enough. As I spoke with a longtime friend and fellow gym owner, he reminded me that “being able to HAVE a business when the dust settles AND provide for your employees is a WIN”. Taking things for granted is often seen as a slight. But if you’ve worked very hard for something and that something is now a normal function of your life, it is very easy to have expectations that it will continue. In this sense, I long to get back to taking things for granted. 

To the outsider, the fitness community may seem invisible. But I assure you we are not. We are here. We are doing the best we can. We are growing and evolving the very definition of what a gym means. This letter is a reminder to all that the community exists. 

To quote a great chicagoan, Kanye, “Nothing is ever promised tomorrow today, but we will find a way.”

Sincerely, 

Josh Siroko

Founder, LIFT Chicago