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I Was a Personal Trainer in Queens Before COVID-19

I Was a Personal Trainer in Queens Before COVID-19


I was a personal trainer at a gym chain located in Queens for over nine years. Life was simple; my commute to work was within a block. On Monday, March 16, 2020, at 2 pm, the whole world came to a halt. I had a paid vacation set aside for that day so that I could run a couple of errands. Covid-19 was at New York City’s doorsteps; Governor Cuomo finally gave the executive order to shut down restaurants, bars, and gyms.

I acquiesced with the state’s actions and reached out to all my clients, disclosing the governor’s executive decision. Without any warning, a phone call came in at 5 pm from my manager. All brick-and-mortar personnel (from the general manager to the front desk staff) were laid off. Within three days of their abrupt notice, I became a statistic. I was one of 3.3 million people who filed for unemployment within one week. I never received any assistance or unemployment until now.

At home, my wife still works as a city employee. I made a commitment to drive her to and from work just to promote social distancing. On the first day, I made a morning trip to Trader Joe’s in Queens, hoping to get everything I needed before the shelves became barren. The line wrapped around the block. Inside the store, no social distancing was enforced during that time. It took two hours to complete my list.

The following two weeks were better. I worked on side projects that I procrastinated on while I was employed. I dedicated my time to watching three TED Talk videos daily, made five contacts a day, and searched for employment and part-time gigs to help pass the time. Unemployment bothered me. My old colleagues created a group chat after the layoff. My friends from high school conducted a weekly virtual happy hour. These were great support systems for us to stay in contact.


Elmhurst Hospital
Elmhurst Hospital nyc

Media outlets and publicly made announcements from Governor Cuomo depicted how Queens is the epicenter. I hear ambulances more frequently as each day pass. Elmhurst Hospital became the Covid-19 hospital of Queens. My close friend, an urgent care doctor in Long Island, tells me that 80% of his patients are diagnosed with Covid-19. Even one of my clients, a hospital doctor in Queens, is now bedridden with the virus for the past week. I call my parents’ home daily to check on their status. At the moment, they have been healthy. The government announced a 30-day social distancing is in effect; I am worried if the gym will ever reopen after we are given the all-clear.

From where I sit, as I stare out of my window, I can still see people walking about, keeping their distance. I know for a fact that this is going to get worst before things get better. All we have to do now is stay New York Tough.

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