Area gyms may be among the next wave of businesses to reopen their doors to the public following temporary closure during the COVID-19 pandemic.Follow an executive order by Gov. Greg Abbott earlier this month, gyms will be able to reopen to the public starting on Monday.
Abbott announced on May 5 that gyms would be able to reopen to the public starting on May 18. During initial talks on reopening efforts across the state, May 18 was initially eyed as a potential start date for a second phase of openings following general retail and restaurants on May 1.
Among the gyms that plan to open to the public starting on Monday is Nautilus Family Fitness. Owner Shawn Teamann said the gyms would be opening their doors at 12 a.m. for gym members looking for a late-night exercise.
“I feel there is a tremendous number of people who are ready to get back to some normal, and the new normal, whatever that looks like today,” Teamann said. “I believe there are some people who are concerned and have major concerns about safety for themselves and their families. Both people have a good position with that and there is no right position. So we are trying to be accommodating to all.”
New guidelines from the state will be put in place at the gyms once they reopen. Among these will be requirements of spacing between equipment to allow for social distancing and a cap of 25 percent capacity for the building.
“Even at peak times, we should be well below that 25 percent cap,” Teamann said.
Despite this, Teamann said some programs will be affected by the guidelines. Aerobics classes and other group exercises will be restricted inside the gym due to space issues. However, Teamann said the gym is exploring options for alternative spaces, including the parking lot and area parks, that do not have the same space restrictions.
“If we have 50 people in a place that doesn’t allow for social distancing, we are not going to put ourselves or our customers in that kind of position,” Teamann said.
While much of the gym will be open, Teamann said some spaces, including showers and locker rooms, will remain closed for the foreseeable future.
Another change that will be seen at the gym is staff dedicated specifically to sanitation and cleaning exercise areas and touch surfaces throughout the day.
Other guidelines are aimed specifically at the gym member rather than the gym itself. Current state recommendations call for the use of full finger gloves while exercising, Teamann said. While the recommendations don’t specifically call for face masks while at a public gym, Teamann said guests are allowed to wear them while exercising.
“That is something our government has left to that person, so we are going to encourage that they follow that and they use full-finger gloves,” he said.
Teamann said the late-night hours are traditionally slow for the gym, but he did expect high turn out early Monday morning, possibly with lines of people waiting to go in.
“When are in a routine... it is challenging to have some outside force take you out of that routine. It can wreak havoc not only on your health but also your mental state,” Teamann said.
Other gyms across the region are more hesitant to immediately open their doors. Officials with the city of Sherman said they are not ready to immediately open the Taylor Street Gym, which the city has operated since 2014.
Sherman Community and Support Services Manager Nate Strauch attributed the decision to the indoor nature of the facility compared to other outdoor parks and recreation facilities. The city should be releasing more information on the reopening within the next two weeks, he said.
Representatives for Planet Fitness said did not give an exact date of when the facility would open, but said it was expected to occur some time in mid-May.
Becky Zirlen, senior public relations manager for planet fitness.
"At Planet Fitness, the safety of our team and members is our top priority, as we begin to execute a thoughtful and phased reopening approach,“ said Becky Zirlen, senior public relations manager for Planet Fitness, in a statement to the Herald Democrat. ”In doing so, we are taking a number of steps to protect the health and well-being of our team members and members, which include enhanced cleanliness and sanitization policies and procedures, physical distancing measures, reducing physical touch points in the club, and more.
“Now more than ever it’s important to stay active, in order to stay healthy, and we look forward to safely and responsibly welcoming our members back to Planet Fitness.”
Calls to Anytime Fitness for comment on plans to reopen were not immediately returned.
Michael Hutchins is the local government reporter for the Herald Democrat. He can be reached at email@example.com.