Fitness enthusiasts have been counting down the days till gyms across Texas re-open after the coronavirus outbreak. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced last week that gyms could re-open on May 18, however, he did put restrictions in place.
Abbott said gyms have to limit their capacity, keep showers and locker rooms closed, though restrooms can be open, and all equipment must be disinfected after each use. Customers should wear gloves that cover their entire hands, including the fingers, and should maintain social distancing. And if customers bring their own equipment into a gym, such as a yoga mat, it must be disinfected before and after each use.
Locally, many business owners have opened with even more caution after the number of positive coronavirus cases and deaths skyrocketed over the past two weeks. So, how exactly are local gyms re-opening their doors in Lamar County?
“In order to reduce the spread of germs, members will be encouraged to maintain 6-feet apart. We will only allow every other treadmill to be operated at this time to maintain distance. We respect all germs and viruses, so we will continue to disinfect all of our equipment throughout the day,” explained Deborah Michael, owner of The Gym Paris of what they are doing for their members.
Kolton Porter with Revival Fitness also stated that his gym has been working hard to ensure that all equipment has been disinfected and that they have also made changes to their classes offered.
“We have changed our schedule to help accommodate all of our members,” he said. “This includes opening up more classes in our outdoor area, and as well as times and sizes of classes held, so we keep to that 25 percent capacity requirement.”
Paris’s largest gym, Paris Fitness and Aquatics have continued to post on their Facebook page to keep members updated on what will happen when they open.
Since the news broke of reopening this coming Monday, the staff at PFA have been working hard to disinfect all their equipment as part of preparations to reopen.
“Members are required to wear gloves that cover palms and fingers, even though regulations don’t state what type of gloves you can wear, as long as your gloves cover your palms and fingers,” said managing partner Shawna Beshirs. “Members will need to bring their own gloves.”
PFA is also supplying sanitizing and hand washing locations and will have cleaning supplies for equipment around the gym.
With PFA also offering a range of fitness options for members, they did state that their pools and kids club were not opening at this time.
Billing for gym members has also been a struggle for many gyms, whether corporate, franchised, or privately owned. Keeping afloat after the suddenly forced closures has been a tough mountain to tackle as costs are still rolled in, and without memberships to help offset those costs, owners across the region have been doing their best to take care of their members.
“The biggest challenge so far on the reopen is figuring out how to handle previously paid for classes and training sessions as well as gym memberships that had just been paid for. Even though we get to open due to being shut down in the middle of the month we still won’t be recouping that much money as we owe people who previously paid for membership time,” said Michael. “Except for our new memberships and previously owed dues we won’t be bringing in any money until a little after June. We stopped taking membership money the day the governor announced gym closure. The SBA loan we applied for barely touched a month’s worth of gym bills.”
“Billing will start on June 1, but we are aware some will want to wait another month before starting back, so we are offering a no-charge hold for June. Members that want to do this will need to request a freeze form at firstname.lastname@example.org and return the completed form before June 1,” stated PFA of their commitment to members.
“We have adjusted our hours and will be open from 6 a.m. till 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and closed on Sunday so we can do aerial disinfection. We are hoping to be fully open by June 1,” added Beshirs.
As Paris gyms prepare to reopen the doors for members officially, Michael reiterated the importance of their industry.
“Fitness facilities always market to losing weight and getting in shape. But a gym is so much more than that. It is a place to decompress, to get rid of your daily stresses, and to escape from the pressures of the day. It is a place where you can focus entirely on whatever your goals are for the day without any interruptions,” she stressed.
Even though there are some restrictions for the post-COVID 19 shutdown, local owners and trainers are still encouraging people to get back to the gym even with a 25 percent capacity saying they are all working hard to ensure everyone gets the opportunity to come and workout safely.