On Wednesday, Natalia Mehlman Petrzela got in a line near her home in New York City’s West Village that snaked down the sidewalk and wrapped around the corner of the block. New Yorkers will queue up for virtually anything; I was once velvet-roped outside a budget pasta joint, among other indignities. But at 5:45 in the morning, Petrzela and her neighbors weren’t anticipating a sample sale or a particularly good bagel. They just wanted to work out.
That was the first day the city’s gyms were allowed to reopen at diminished capacity after nearly six months of pandemic shutdown, and people were really excited to get back on the elliptical before dawn. “I don’t know if I’m proud of that or not,” Petrzela, who worked at the gym years ago as an instructor before becoming a history professor at The New School, told