Body Effects owner Leon Gray didn’t wait for the governor’s order to shut down his business during lockdown in March to take action. Once he heard about the COVID-19 he started reading about it. “I was proactive. I’m a nerd. I do a lot of research,” he said.

Gray alerted his students that he expected the gym to shut down during the pandemic and started teaching them how to use Zoom, and also sent weights home with his students. He did the same for his seniors as well as younger students. Now that the governor is closing gyms a second time, due to the high number of cases, Gray is not missing a beat.

What helped his business was his parking lot. He bought canopies and fans and started offering morning classes outdoors - mindful of social distancing. Seniors and others who didn’t and still don’t feel comfortable going to the outdoor gym can follow along from home using Zoom. For the first few months he offered the classes for free to his students. “Some [students] were not working. I wanted to build up their natural endorphins. People gave donations…I have bills, too. People were beautiful…My clients are from the Cays and IB. We’re a community, we help each other,” he said.

The gym stopped offering its kickboxing and Zumba classes which are held indoors and Gray is now the only instructor for all classes. He is proud of what he has accomplished. Gray has been able to keep his business going while continuing to help his students exercise and maintain their physical and mental well being.

Gray offers two types of circuit training classes which consist of weight lifting classes three days a week, and cardio and abs the other two days. He also teaches paddleboarding and paddleboard Pilates in the Cays on the weekends. On Saturdays he offers a Beach Boot Camp. For the paddleboard class he uses a shuttle bus to drive his students to the Cays and everyone has to wear a mask while traveling and maintain a safe distance from each other.

It is more work for Gray to set up the equipment outside every morning, but for him it’s worth it. He is used to spraying and disinfecting everything now. Gray has also set up rules to stay safe, like no switching weights with others during class. “Everybody is doing well,” he said of his students.

Gray has about 20 senior students who follow his classes on Zoom. He also teaches a Silver Sneaker class for seniors focused on balance and strength.

Gray welcomes everybody to his classes and is accommodating. Although he has a set amount of core students, he advises others who want to join the class to let him know in advance so he can set up the space. “It’s been a learning curve, but it has gone super easy. I can handle it. Family members [of students] have come to class and I made it happen. I know the parameters,” he said.

Body Effects, which opened three years ago, has offered after school programs for kids year around for about two hours a day. Because of the pandemic Gray stopped the program for a while, but recently restarted it with only one student at a time and plans on having two kids participating now. “I educated them about distancing…kids are great. They understand, they know about grandma getting sick. They are doing even better than the adults,” said Gray.

To make sure safe distancing is maintained Grey set up the program in a way that kids play a sport where they are naturally distant, like tennis, paddleboarding and lacrosse, and have their own station to do individual workouts.

“In March I started to stop classes. I really care about [my students.] We’re like a family. We talk. Everybody is respectful and workouts are super good. Nothing has changed,” said Gray.

For more information call Gray at 619-507-6292.

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