Gyms can reopen Wednesday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Thursday.
Having been closed for nearly six months, gym and fitness studio owners say they’re eager to reopen and won’t waste any time.
But stepping into a gym or fitness studio will look very different compared with before the pandemic.
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Here’s what Thursday’s order says:
- Gym-goers will be required to wear a mask at all times, including when working out. An exception to that rule is swimming.
- Gym owners should do their best to offer outdoor workout opportunities.
- Capacity will be limited to 25%.
- The size of fitness classes must be reduced to enable 6 feet of separation between attendees.
- Equipment must be regularly disinfected and hand sanitizer or soap and water must be made available to clients.
- The gym must increase the circulation of outdoor air as much as possible by opening windows and doors or using fans.
- Steam rooms, saunas, Jacuzzis and cold-plunge pools will be closed.
Latricia Wilder, the owner of the cycling studio Vibe Ride in downtown Detroit, was relieved to hear that classes are permitted under the order. But she’s worried about the requirement that masks must be worn at all times, given that cycling is a high-intensity exercise.
Wilder plans to keep outdoor classes going for as long as the weather permits so that clients don’t have to wear masks when cycling. When she does have to transition classes back into the studio, she’ll be able to have classes with at most 14 bikes, compared with 38 prior to the pandemic.
“I’m going to have to figure out how to operate with those limits,” said Wilder. “I would need to be doing a million classes a week to try to accommodate the loss.”
Her landlord, Bedrock, has offered her a rent abatement, and that’s the only reason she’s able to stay in business, she says.
“In July, I made $200,” Wilder said. “I understand why gyms have been all over this announcement.”
That’s true for Felicia Maxwell, the owner of Fit 4 Life Health and Fitness on Detroit’s northwest side. She’s been prepping to reopen her studio since March, and started offering outdoor and Zoom classes once gyms were forced to shut down.
Maxwell said she’ll continue to offer Zoom and outdoor workouts, along with indoor workouts.
“I’m going to do all of the above,” she said. Maxwell is worried, too, about the mask requirement.
“My plan is to allow for mask breaks outside during high-intensity workouts,” she said.
Life Time Fitness, a chain of health clubs around the U.S. with locations in Michigan in Troy, Rochester Hills and Bloomfield Township, among others, has had some practice reopening. The chain has locations in 29 states and in Canada, with Michigan being the last state to reopen.
Jesse Brandyberry, an area director for Life Time Fitness who oversees the Michigan and Ohio clubs, said reopenings have gone smoothly in Ohio. Members’ temperatures are taken when they enter the building at the front desk, and staff will check to ensure members are wearing masks.
“People who are coming to the gym care about their health,” said Brandyberry. “We’re taking as many safety measures as we can.”
More: Michigan gyms, pools may reopen Sept. 9; organized sports may resume, Whitmer says
Once inside, the gym equipment, such as treadmills and other cardio machines, are spaced out and in Ohio, certain areas such as steam rooms and saunas, are shut down.
He has found it hasn’t been difficult for gym-goers to maintain social distancing.
“We’ve found in most cases, members have naturally chosen to go at hours outside of peak hours,” Brandyberry said. “With virtual learning and working from home, people naturally spread out when they go to the gym.”
For some members, the transition back won’t feel so drastic. The outdoor pool and camps were open at Life Time’s gym in Rochester Hills, and outdoor fitness classes are offered and have been well attended.
Scott Marcus, owner of eight Orangetheory Fitness studios in metro Detroit, said outdoor workouts have led to new members. All members’ accounts were frozen when gyms shut down in mid-March and will be restarted whenever members decide they’re ready to come back.
“We understand everyone is not going to be ready to come back,” said Marcus. “We’ll still be profitable and able to pay our staff.”
When members do decide to return, the experience will be different. Class-goers will wait outside until class time. Once inside, they’ll get their temperature taken, and head directly to their station. Classes will be 45 minutes instead of an hour to allow for a half-hour cleaning period in between classes.
What won’t change, Marcus said, is cleaning protocols and the ability to contact trace. The staff know exactly which rower or treadmill a member is using.
“We’re all set,” he said.
Contact Adrienne Roberts: [email protected]
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Michigan gyms can reopen Sept. 9: What you need to know