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Popular Seattle gym survives pandemic, now closing after mass tech layoffs

Mass tech layoffs have had a trickle-down effect on small businesses in downtown Seattle.

SEATTLE — Some small businesses in downtown Seattle are starting to feel the impacts of the most recent wave of tech layoffs.

Pandora Fitness sits on the corner of 8th Ave and Virginia Street, just steps from Amazon's headquarters and companies like Meta. 

The tech giants announced layoffs in November. 

Amazon announced mass layoffs amid rising fears about the wider economic environment. They followed Facebook's parent company Meta, which announced layoffs for 11,000 employees or about 13% of its workforce.

The layoffs have had a trickle-down effect on Pandora Fitness' bottom line where 80% of clientele work in technology.

"We've probably had, gosh maybe 8 - 10% who have come in and said, hey just in the last four weeks I've actually lost my job," said David Israel, Pandora Fitness owner.

Despite taking out $250,000 in loans to survive the pandemic where gyms faced some of the tightest COVID-19 restrictions, business is still down by 65%. 

Israel owns a second gym in the Belltown neighborhood but he planned on the South Lake Union location being the flagship location until work-from-home life became more of a long-term reality.

"Our landlord Hudson Pacific was just very, very supportive but these buildings are all empty because everybody wants to work from home," said Israel who points to shrinking class sizes that used to be full with people hitting the gym before and after work. 

Israel said his members are like family and he waived fees as much as he could to put a priority on fitness. But that left fewer and fewer customers willing and able to help keep the doors open.

"After four and a half years you just don't believe it's coming to an end," Israel said as he moved out gym equipment. 

Pandora Fitness will officially close on Sunday. 

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