Gyms might be first lockdown businesses to reopen: Here’s how they’re preparing
Gym rats, rejoice.
With the help of a major lobbying push, gyms across the country are likely to be among the first nonessential businesses allowed to reopen in America, despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Although workout centers present a particularly contact-filled environment — just think of all the droplets — they were included with physical distancing restrictions in President Trump’s Opening Up America Again plan. The decision of when and whether or not to implement the plan is left up to state governors. But it’s already gotten blowback.
In Georgia, first-term Republican Gov. Brian Kemp allowed workout centers to begin reopening Friday, along with bowling alleys and hair salons — a move one ER doctor called a “slap in the face.”
Texas is likely to soon follow suit, with gyms anticipated to be included in a slate of approved reopenings set to be announced Monday. Oklahoma will start reopening gyms on May 1, as well as restaurant dining rooms, movie theaters and sporting venues statewide. For harder hit states, including New York, reopening dates are likely further in the future.
Although gym owners are excited and eager to begin reopening, they tell The Post that they’re implementing measures that will continue to curb their business in order to prioritize safety.
Austin Art of Fitness owner Jonathan Pisana plans to reopen as soon as he’s allowed to, but will also maintain the option of online workouts for clients who aren’t comfortable returning to the boutique Austin, Texas, space in person.
“The virtual sessions have been going better than I thought, and I’m glad we can still keep that,” Pisana tells The Post. “Some of the older population that we train, they’re still a little hesitant, and they’ve told me they may continue virtual training a little longer, and that’s perfectly fine.”
Pisana and his staff also plan to be “extremely meticulous” about wiping down and disinfecting equipment and rely exclusively on verbal instead of physical cueing when giving clients feedback.
Mary Hollis of Mableton, Georgia’s Caffeinated CrossFit is planning on a slow reopening for her gym, and implementing measures including having clients fill out a COVID-19 questionnaire and encouraging them to take their temperatures before coming in, or have it taken at the gym, she shared in a video to her members.
For those who feel comfortable, though, having the physical gym open again will make a huge difference.
“Being here in the environment, the camaraderie, the music — I know my clients are looking forward to that,” Pisana says, “about half our community, they’re ready to come in.”
For rowing studio CityRow founder and CEO Helaine Knapp, making sure the climate feels right to reopen is more important than being legally allowed to.
“Just because you can doesn’t mean you should,” Knapp tells The Post. “Our Georgia studio made the decision to wait, so they are not going to open today.”
Instead, CityRow’s Atlanta location plans to evaluate closer to May 1, a decision which received positive feedback from clients, Knapp says. While some customers did reach out to say, “Hey, we’re ready to come in,” others reacted with “Had you said you were reopening, we would’ve cancelled our memberships,” Knapp says.
Still, that reopening one studio is now even a possibility has her “cautiously excited.”
“When we did shut down, we didn’t know how long it would be for. It’s been really hard to be closed,” she says. “This is the moment we’ve been waiting for since then.”
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