Locally owned gyms feeling financial struggle, plea to Governor for assistance

Posted at 5:45 PM, Mar 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-17 17:45:53-04

LOCKPORT, N.Y. (WKBW) — Bobby Muscarella and his wife Karen have owned Ultimate Physique in Lockport for 25 years. With 800 memberships and nearly five classes a day, business was good.

"Going to the gym is like a drug at the end of the day," instructor Thomas Russell. "They need their fix and when they're out of here, they feel better."

But this once packed gym is now empty. Ultimate Physique is one of the many small businesses in Western New York that have had to close their doors amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

"We fight every day, every week, every month to stay alive, to keep this operation going," Russell added.

So what now? The Muscarella's say they're in negotiations with the bank to divert some of their payments but right now, they need help from the state just like so many other small businesses in Western New York.

"We have a $9,000 mortgage," Muscarella said. "We don't want to lose our business, our house, everything we own because of that decision to close businesses."

According to the U.S. Small Business Association, counties in Western New York are not listed among the areas eligible for SBA disaster loans.

A statement from the Small Business Association Buffalo District Director says, "these loans can only be accomplished once a Governor formally applies to the SBA, certifying at least five businesses in the state have been impacted. The SBA has been in contact with Governor Cuomo's office, helping them with the process, however, it has not been formally submitted".

Once a declaration is made businesses like the Muscarella's could get some help but until then, those payments and financial responsibilities will continue to add up.

"We need the Governor to hear our plea," Muscarella said. "He needs to take action or he's gonna lost a lot of small businesses and that shouldn't happen in today's society."