In different states throughout the country, gyms and fitness facilities are beginning to reopen as the coronavirus pandemic continues and stay-at-home restrictions begin to loosen. Likewise, some facilities are reopening in defiance of such orders.
In Oklahoma, gyms began to reopen on May 1. According to Oklahoma City TV station KFOR, not every facility is choosing to reopen immediately — but those that have have instituted precautionary measures meant to encourage distancing.
“We felt like we could really control our space and make everybody safe,” Pilates on Western co-owner Gina Bruno-Dunn told KFOR. The facility is placing caps on the number of people allowed in a class, spacing out in-use machines and taking extra steps to clean and sanitize the space.
“We’ve always sanitized everything prior, we’ve just kind of upped the game,” Bruno-Dunn said. “We’ve added steaming, we do the floors, we take our shoes off, we encourage everyone to wash their hands.”
Meanwhile, Pilates on Western is continuing to offer virtual classes to members who don’t feel safe going to in-person classes just yet. “I think that that’s fine, everyone should do what they’re comfortable with,” Bruno-Dunn said. “Everyone’s situation is different.”
In California, a stay-at-home order remains in effect. However, according to the Los Angeles Times, a Victorville, Calif., gym reopened Friday in spite of the order, hanging printouts near entrances of the U.S. Constitution and banners with slogans such as #GymsAreEssential and #ReopenAmerica.
Jacob D. Lewis, who owns 24-hour fitness studio the Gym told the L.A. Times that he made the decision to reopen based on feedback from members who told them they’d begun suffering from chronic health condition flare-ups and challenges to their mental health. He also described stay-at-home orders as part of an overblown response that infringes on individual rights.
“It comes down to our civil rights,” Lewis told the Times. “There’s one thing that people in power forget, one thing that makes us all the same, and that’s the Constitution.”
Some health experts have questioned the wisdom of the decision to reopen gyms.
“Gyms can be difficult places to maintain social distancing and the volume of high-touch surfaces and objects makes them uniquely challenging for infection prevention efforts,” infection prevention epidemiologist and biodefense researcher Dr. Saskia Popescu told Vox. “Moreover, in those environments where social distancing is difficult, the CDC has recommended masks, which you can’t really do when working out.”