The COVID-19 pandemic has infiltrated every part of our daily lives. From the way we convene in public spaces to the voting process, the coronavirus has altered the way we live and function. One of the more noticeable ways the pandemic has affected our lives is closing down some of our favorite businesses and venues. Hit hard by the pandemic, businesses in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia like U Street Music Hall and District Commons have closed their doors permanently. In contrast, some business have found a way to move forward when it didn't seem possible at one point.
When many businesses closed their doors, Samaiyah Williams opened hers. In September, the University of Maryland alumna opened her own fitness studio called Her Flex Fitness in Capitol Heights, Maryland. However, this fitness studio isn't an ordinary gym. Her Flex Fitness is a Black-owned fitness space geared towards women. The six-week-old venue offers group, semi-private, and virtual training sessions.
Black-owned women's fitness studios are rare, but very much in need. Women's only fitness spaces are often in-demand due to rampant sexual harassment that is not uncommon in most gyms. In June 2019, fitness equipment company, FitRated, found that 71% of women are harassed at the gym on a daily basis. The company also found that nearly 76% of women felt like they were being watched by men while exercising. Equally important, Williams represents something that is becoming more difficult to find during the pandemic, a Black business owner.
"Nationally representative data on small businesses indicate that the number of active business owners fell by 22% from February to April 2020—the largest drop on record," a report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York states.
"Black businesses experienced the most acute decline, with a 41% drop. Latinx business owners fell by 32% and Asian business owners dropped by 26%."
Luckily, Williams is off to a running start. Her boisterous and upbeat personality allows her to be a business owner, personal trainer and her client's biggest cheerleader. Spending five minutes on her social media feed, it's not hard to find videos of the lady of Alpha Kappa Alpha, Inc. pumping up her clients or training herself.
Despite the unwavering nature of this pandemic, Williams continues to open up her gym while taking precautionary safety measures. As the gym enters its second month of operation, the sky is the limit.
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