No decision I’ve made for my business over the past two years has been a walk in the park.

Navigating mandates, Covid variant surges and even potential financial support from local and national governing agencies have added complex challenges to the demands (and joys!) of operating my Cambridge gym.

As a fitness studio focused on small group personal training, my business relies on social interaction and support. When clients are engaged with the trainers and with each other, it creates a welcoming and inviting atmosphere in our studio.

Our industry, like many, is still treading water trying to stay afloat. With variants, rising numbers and different mandates being initiated in one town or city versus another, business owners such as me are faced with a grim reality that only brings more questions.

Do we sacrifice the potential of new business by issuing our own mandates regardless of what the city says?

Do we gain business by undermining what our government and peers are encouraging?

As owner of a business that revolves around self-care and health, I came to the decision that it made sense to create our own vaccine mandate. Overall, this will help keep the members in our space feel more comfortable and allow them to continue working to keep themselves physically fit and mentally healthy at a time that’s become more and more difficult.

Although I made this decision for my own business and strongly encourage others to do the same, I do feel that businesses should have the freedom to make their own decisions.

Many of us local business owners run small operations and, regardless of the type of business, our personal touch and personalities are embedded into the spaces. I know that my business is very different from the gas station down the street, and that they are different from the coffee shop.

I understand some individuals’ and business’ reasons for not wanting a vaccine or vaccine mandate, and I support their right to make those decisions for themselves in the current moment. While I’m grateful I was allowed to make the best decision for my business model and for my clients, I believe creative approaches such as incentive programs encourage businesses to participate and not forcing their hand.

John Pecchia, owner of Get in Shape for Women, Porter Square