Black Women On The Front Lines Of The Coronavirus

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Ife Obe is the owner of The Fit In: Bed-Stuy, a boutique fitness center in New York.

Black women on the front lines of the coronavirus

Source: Ife Obe / Courtesy of Ife Obe

MN: Over the last few days, government officials have taken drastic, but necessary measures to contain the outbreak. How has it affected your business?

IO: The days leading up to March 16th, I knew it was only a matter of time until we would be mandated to close. Our members begged us to stay open but the writing was on the wall. We’re a business based around getting people together in a physical space and that is not allowed during this time. We have to temporarily shut our doors. And while that means no immediate revenue coming in, that also means our instructors, many who teach fitness for a living, are significantly impacted. Our community no longer has that place that kept them sane. Our community no longer has the service that we provide, both the exercise and the social piece of that. 

MN: Are you fearful in any way of an economic hardship/blowback for your business?

IO: Call me an optimist, but I truly believe we’ll be ok because we’ve built a strong and supportive community. They will come back stronger than ever. I’ve lived my life problem-solving and I will get through until then. 

MN: Lastly, is there anything you pledge to do as a community member to help others who may be underserved? 

IO: In terms of providing movement options to the community, we are launching affordable on-demand workouts people can do right at home, no equipment necessary. The instructor teaching will get the majority of the revenue per download. But thinking about the Bed-Stuy community as a whole, The Campaign Against Hunger (TCAH) serves Bed-Stuy and beyond to provide meals to those in need. The need has grown at this time, lowering the pantry inventory and this pandemic has caused a reduction in volunteers. We made a donation to the pantry and plan to donate a percentage of our video downloads to the pantry as well.

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