As gyms begin to reopen, how will people’s gym experience be different?

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SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – As the state moves into the moderate-risk phase in response to the coronavirus, Utahns will begin to see things reopen such as restaurants, salons and even gyms. However, as places such as gyms reopen, people’s experiences will not be what they used to be.

“We recognize that our members’ gym experience is going to be a very different one and we want to thank them in advance for their flexibility and patience as we navigate these uncharted waters together,” says Mindi Bridges, Chief Marketing Officer at VASA Fitness. “We have implemented these specific safety measures for members and team members to follow in order to keep our community safe.”

While all of VASA’s Utah locations will open on Thursday, (St. George and Cedar City VASAs opened last week) smaller, private gyms have also been reopening across the state and realize that although people can return to the gym, gym-goers are going to have to get used to a ‘new normal’.

Lori Franks, owner of the Legends Boxing location at Jordan Landing, said she was devastated and panicked when she had to shut down the gym in March but is now excited to reopen even if it is under new circumstances. Franks said that they will now have people sign up for classes online beforehand so they can limit the class sizes to just ten people.

“We take our staff’s temperatures, the staff is wearing masks, we had to re-do our schedule so there is 30 minutes in between each class so we can sanitize and wipe down everything,” says Franks of the new normal for her boxing gym. “There was a protocol that came through (the state) that we have to follow.”

Legends Boxing; Courtesy of Lori Franks

But larger gyms such as VASA who are used to having hundreds of people there at a time, what precautions are they taking?

Bridges says that VASA will have limited hours, will limit the amount of people allowed inside based on each facilities’ square footage, and will have gym members sign up for hour time slots online among other precautions.

“VASA has reduced its monthly membership fee for all members to $9.99 and will not be offering group fitness, studio or team classes, basketball, racquetball and group training sessions,” says Bridges. “VASA will also not permit showers or changing and will only allow restroom use. Further, the pool, sauna, steam room and hot tub will be closed and child care services will not be available. In order to reinforce the social distancing guidelines, every other cardio machine will be turned off and a floor attendant will monitor all exercise areas and help to discourage close proximity workouts.”

Franks says that while the ‘community’ feeling of her boxing gym may have to take a step back because there can’t be any high-fiving or fist bumping, she is happy to have her clients back and happy.

“We had two ladies come in and they teared up because they were so happy to be back at the gym and to be able to have a little bit of their freedom back,” says Franks.

While the gyms were closed, VASA conducted a survey among their members and found that 52 percent of their gym members indicated that staying healthy and attending the gym would be very important for them after the pandemic. 41 percent of VASA members said they would be back to the gym on the first day of reopening and 35 percent of members said that they would visit the gym within one month of VASA reopening.

“Although we are seeing fewer people in clubs, so far the response to our new guidelines has been overwhelmingly positive and respectful,” Bridges of VASA says.

Both gyms said that they are working closely with state and county officials to ensure they are following all safety measures and will continue to follow what local health officials are requiring in each phase of the coronavirus recovery plan.

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