Many Florida gyms set to re­open to­day

Orlando Sentinel - - Front Page - By An­nie Martin

Florida gym-go­ers can re­turn to their rou­tines this week as the state’s fit­ness fa­cil­i­ties are al­lowed to re­open, but they’re bound to see a lot of changes. Some own­ers are re­quir­ing in­struc­tors to wear masks and are tem­po­rar­ily turn­ing off ma­chines to en­cour­age so­cial dis­tanc­ing.

Mon­day marks the first time fit­ness fa­cil­i­ties have been able to open since March 20, when Gov. Ron DeSan­tis or­dered them to shut down to help pre­vent the spread of coron­avirus.

Many fa­cil­i­ties are ea­ger to wel­come back mem­bers — with pre­cau­tions. Rock Hard Fit­ness owner Max Dun­ley said class par­tic­i­pants can ex­pect to be greeted at the front door by staff check­ing their tem­per­a­tures, spray­ing san­i­tizer on their hands and dis­in­fect­ing their shoes. And they’ll en­ter through the front

door and exit out the rear of the small gym to avoid com­min­gling groups.

Dun­ley said he ex­pects a busy first week back at his gym, which of­fers boot camp-style classes and other ac­tiv­i­ties, be­cause “ev­ery­one is itch­ing to get back to their nor­mal rou­tine.”

Gyms can op­er­ate if they prac­tice safe so­cial dis­tanc­ing and san­i­tize ma­chines and other sur­faces, ac­cord­ing to DeSan­tis. An ex­ec­u­tive or­der al­lows 50% of their nor­mal ca­pac­ity.

The de­ci­sion has been con­tro­ver­sial. While some asked DeSan­tis to re­open fit­ness fa­cil­i­ties — with one group do­ing push-ups and squats out­side the Pinel­las County court­house — others urged of­fi­cials to de­lay re­open­ing gyms, fear­ing they could be­come easy places for the virus to spread.

In ad­di­tion to al­low­ing gyms to re­open, DeSan­tis’ or­der al­lows restau­rants and re­tail stores to op­er­ate at 50% ca­pac­ity. Pre­vi­ously, those estab­lish­ments had been lim­ited to 25% ca­pac­ity.

Many gyms plan to open Mon­day, in­clud­ing Power Strength Gym on W Sand Lake Road, which wrote on its Face­book page it will re­open at 5 a.m. How­ever, half of the car­dio equip­ment will be shut off tem­po­rar­ily to pro­mote so­cial dis­tanc­ing and half of the benches in the dumb­bell area will be un­avail­able. Ad­di­tion­ally, wa­ter foun­tains will be turned. Staff also will con­duct tem­per­a­ture checks on mem­bers at check-in, among other pre­cau­tions, the post said.

Not every gym is re­turn­ing to its nor­mal sched­ule im­me­di­ately: The YMCA of Cen­tral Florida, for ex­am­ple, said some of its fa­cil­i­ties will re­open Thurs­day “in a care­ful, phased roll­out.”

“This ap­proach will help en­sure the safety and well­be­ing of all in our care,” the or­ga­ni­za­tion wrote in an email to its mem­bers late last week.

At Rock Hard Fit­ness, classes that nor­mally have 20 or more par­tic­i­pants will be lim­ited to eight, Dun­ley said. In­struc­tors will wear masks, and vir­tual classes will con­tinue for peo­ple who aren’t ready to come back.

Dun­ley said he un­der­stood why state lead­ers shut­tered gyms in March, but he also knows fit­ness rou­tines help many peo­ple cope with stress. As gyms re­open, he said he hopes peo­ple will stay pa­tient.

“If some­thing doesn’t flow right, we’re just do­ing our best in an ever-chang­ing en­vi­ron­ment,” he said.


Crunch Fit­ness staff go through train­ing with pro­tec­tive masks as they re­view new safety guide­lines.

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