Below are a list of logistical reasons that contributed to the decision to close our studio at this time.
• Our lease agreement ends in August of 2020. It would always be that date, but in a world with
COVID-19, I have come to the conclusion that attempting to “ride out” (literally) the remainder
of our time in Fieldhouse will be unwise, regardless of whether the local, state, or federal
governments tell us we can.
• Perhaps what pains me the most to say is that I believe – if even just for the next year or two–
gone are the days of breathing heavily together in small, enclosed spaces. Larger gyms with top-
of-the-line ventilation systems and a lot of natural/open air will be more equipped to operate in
this new landscape. Our 800 sq ft. locker room-turned-cycling studio just doesn’t fit that bill.
• Even if I wanted to re-open in the same space, I do not have the capacity or capital to keep you
safe. The new recommendations for physical spaces where we congregate are going to require
more of an investment up front and ongoing. Smaller studios and spaces will need to limit the
amount of people they can accommodate, which will in turn limit revenue (less riders, less
revenue). To balance this out at Rebel, we would have to add more classes to our schedule
which would require hiring more instructors. Not only is it already difficult to find available
talent, but to do so during/right after a pandemic in the summertime in Michigan would
honestly be as close to impossible as it gets.
• At Rebel, our operating budget was built on sanitizing and cleanliness practices that were
once standard and safe, but that are no longer sufficient when faced with COVID-19. New
ventilation systems, air purification, and increased sanitizing of all surfaces (including floors
between every ride) amount to more than our small studio could afford now and especially
moving into a future where normal projections (fiscally) are out of the window.
• • This is also one of the reasons why it would be difficult to find another location for the
studio, too. There are so many unknowns about the future of fitness spaces that this is
the literal worst time to be looking for real estate (especially given that there are so
many businesses trying to hang on to their current spaces as is).
• Of course, the remaining months of our lease are already the most challenging months for
indoor fitness studios in Michigan. Many of us in the small gym ownership space know that we
make most of our money in the colder seasons and often times we have to hold on to that cash
to pay our overhead in months where you all are out soaking up that Vitamin D (as you should!).
Yes, there is the core base who will still visit gyms year-round and there are events that can
draw revenue, but it’s often nowhere near what we pull in November-March. It would be
difficult to make it through March-August and beyond without taking on additional debt for the
• I have been asked more than once whether I applied for the PPP loan or any of the available
small business grants. The answer is no. The reasons are as follows:
• • PPP loans are just that – loans. While the loans can be forgiven, the terms are already
challenging for businesses far bigger and far more successful and long-standing than
mine. Namely, 75% of the loan must be dedicated to employee payroll: Rebel does not
have any employees to put on payroll. If we applied for the loan and were lucky enough
to get accepted, it would likely turn into more debt that I might not have been able to
pay back. It’s not a risk I am willing to take.
• • Even if Rebel qualified for a grant, it is my personal belief that the grants available to
small businesses should all go to those who need the money. I believe grants should go
to people whose livelihoods have been disrupted by what COVID has done to their
business. Losing my regular revenue because of COVID did not disrupt my life because I
have another full-time job. I have never even drawn a paycheck from Rebel – I never
intended to. And while I love and believe in fitness spaces as part of a healthy and
thriving community, I do not feel that they are essential in the way that we understand
what is essential (especially in these times). I have watched people who rely on their
business to survive struggle so greatly due to COVID closures that I can only hope every
penny of grant relief finds them and helps them maintain until we can all safely return