Gyms are known for being social places where individuals share equipment, are often around strangers, use the same machines and sweat together. The entirety of that is changing as gyms start to reopen in parts of the United States amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The owner of the Anytime Fitness franchise in Ardmore, Julie Hibbard said that in Oklahoma, where gyms were allowed to reopen on May 1 with sanitation and social distancing protocols in place, some gym members are wearing facemasks and gloves as they exercise. Hibbard said that she put restrictions like a strong suggestion to wear masks, mandatory wiping down of equipment and we only have 25% capacity of members inside the gym. She added that she watches all the security cameras to check all the protocols are followed.
Hibbard is the owner three gyms in Texas, she has a professional cleaning staff that cleans the gym every day and a staff member who cleans the gym hourly, a sign of the additional precautions that gyms are expected to take. She also added social distancing, so the stall and members have to keep a distance of 15 feet from each other inside the gym.
In Texas, the owner of Dallas Iron Fitness, Kaitlyn Gannon is busy making adjustments to her two private, boutique gym locations so that they can be reopened. She told that all of the members of her gym, upon entering, will have to sanitize their hands. The gym is following all the necessary precautions and has spray bottles that members are required to use and spray down equipment before the first touch. She added that each gym member has to sanitize their hands when they’re done and the gym is having antibacterial hand sanitizer at the front and members have to use the sanitizer before leaving.
According to Gannon, the personal trainers of the gym will rely on verbal instructions for maintaining a safe distance from clients and will wear face masks as required and the members will have to book their appointments to work out. The gym will start a modified class schedule one week after opening and include only two to five individuals per class instead of the usual 15.
Gannon added that the environment of the gym is just going to be totally different and the support needed is immeasurable. Her second gym location opened a day before stay-at-home orders were put in place in Texas. She added that people should know that gym owners and staff are doing everything possible to open up in a clean environment. Nationally, gyms and boutique studios, even those who have not yet announced dates to reopen are already giving a glimpse to their future about measures taken and how the future will look like.
The national gym chain, Equinox has told the members that they will need to book appointments by using the gym’s app and will have their temperatures checked upon entry in the gym by using touch-less thermometers. Members will also be needed to wear facemasks except during vigorously training and have to follow guidelines to ensure social distancing measures. Extra luxuries like pools, saunas, kids’ club’s showers, and basketball courts will also remain closed during the initial reopening of gyms.
The national chain of cycling studios, Soul Cycle that is owned by Equinox, is planning to limit the number of riders in each class to ensure social distancing and is requesting riders to wait in their cars or outside before class. According to the chain’s website, temperatures of their staff and riders will also be checked if required by state or local governments over the COVID-19 concerns.