HOUSTON - On weeknights, Mark Dong's small martial arts gym, Krav Fit Now, in West Houston is usually bustling. That changed about two weeks ago when attendance began dwindling over concerns about COVID-19. Some evenings, less than half of the students came.
On Monday, he posted a video to a Facebook announcing he made a tough decision.
“Hey guys!” he said in the video. “Just wanted to give [you all] a quick update. Based on the new recommendations for the coronavirus, we will be canceling classes until further notice.”
He says most students pay month to month or months in advance. He worries those payments won’t come in.
“Rent is still coming up April 1st. We haven't talked to the landlord yet to see what's going on,” Mark told FOX 26 via Facebook video chat.
Mark's business of one of many in Houston hit hard by the COVID-19 outbreak.
His decision to close temporarily came over new guidance from federal officials called for gatherings of less than 10 people. Also, Harris County and Houston officials placed new restrictions on restaurants and other businesses.
“It is the right decision although it is a very tough decision. I want to put my students first before myself. Their health and well-being is my main concern,” Mark added.
Mark's household is taking a double hit. His wife works as a server at a restaurant.
“That was our main income — her income from the tips that she would be making,” he said.
However, for Mark this challenging time given him the opportunity to explore online training using social platforms like Facebook, YouTube, and Zoom. Something he’s trying out this week.
“It has been something on the back of my mind so it's just bringing it more up to the forefront and making it more of a priority now,” he said.
While he's not shooting videos, he says he'll be praying and hanging on.
“Right now, I mean as small business owners, we just [have] to pray that our elected officials are making the right decisions,” Mark concluded.
Mark says his gym will reopen once the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines permit.