Fitness Instructors Turn to Social Media as Clubs and Studios Close

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The threat of the COVID-19 virus has begun to threaten small businesses within the fitness industry, prompting many local instructors to connect with their clients online.

"We'll say grab a dumbbell, and if you don't have a dumbbell, use a gallon of milk," said Joey Tagliente.

In July, Tagliente and his sister, Kristina Tagliente, opened Row Republic in Boston. The rowing studio offers a mix of high intensity cardio classes that bring hundreds through their doors every day. Now, they are relying on social media to deliver their instruction.

"All you need is some basic equipment, a good playlist and a positive attitude," said Kristina Tagliente.

The efforts are necessary for many small businesses trying to stay afloat without the regular stream of customers. This has been especially true for independent contractors, or instructors, whose income is generated from classes taught at fitness clubs and studios that have closed.

"We are having to get really creative," said Kara Duval, a Boston-based Pilates instructor.

On Saturday, Duval began offering her classes on Instagram from her living room. Since then, she has attracted hundreds of participants per session and even raised more than $7,000 for the Greater Boston Food Bank.

"At the end of the day, what everybody is craving is this normalcy. And nothing about this is normal," Duval explained. "We are making it work."

While the Taglientes hope to be able to reopen in April, they are taking the closure and concerns day by day. For now, their focus is on helping their clients stay healthy, whether it be in person or online.

"It's as close to simulating the experience as you can, but you're at home," said Joey Tagliente.

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