Glendale and Peoria gyms have reopened, but because of COVID-19, managers and members are playing it safe.
New safety measures are in place, such as requiring all to wear face masks, limiting the number of people in gyms, conducting touchless check-ins and placing equipment 6 feet apart.
Under state law, gyms are now able to operate under a limited capacity of 25%. Still, gyms aren’t even close to being filled to that maximum capacity, facility owners and managers say.
Gym managers, including Scott Sims, owner of Anytime Fitness in Peoria, report they have lost members due to COVID-19. Some people say they haven’t returned because they fear for their safety. Others said they don’t like all of the restrictions imposed on them, especially having to wear masks. It makes working out harder.
But following the regulations from the Arizona Department of Health Services, Peoria and Glendale gym managers say, keeps their gyms safe.
A big part of the new regime is extra cleaning they are doing.
“I’ve had people tell me there’s no way coronavirus can live in this place,” Sims said. “We’re constantly bleaching and cleaning all day long.”
The gyms have their own apps to track the number of members to ensure they don’t go over the state-mandated capacity.
All gyms in Arizona were forced to close March 12, later resuming operations May 12, then again forced to shut down June 29 to limit the spread of coronavirus. On Aug. 10, the health department released rules allowing gyms that met state guidelines to operate under a limited capacity of 25%.
LA Fitness in Glendale
Although many amenities at LA Fitness in Glendale have been shut down, such as child care services, the sauna, hot tub and basketball courts, the three-lane indoor pool remains open, under restrictions.
The only time members don’t have to wear masks is while swimming laps.
John Senerchia expressed his excitement to be in the pool again at LA Fitness, saying, “I haven’t been able to exercise because of my chemo treatment and I can’t be in the heat, so having the pool back has been great.”
Another member, Alexandria Cannon, said she is pleased to lift weights again, but she’s not able to complete her cardio workout at the gym, as she finds wearing the mask makes it too difficult to breathe.
Planet Fitness in Glendale
To ensure the gym doesn’t get overcrowded, Planet Fitness has found innovative ways for members to have a live view of people in the gym by using the Planet Fitness app, the Crowd Meter and software such as Data Trak.
Group fitness classes are on hold for now. Planet Fitness District Manager Terrell Kluting noted that members are using the large gym spaces to work out on their own.
“When taking into account the restricted occupancy that has been placed (on gyms) by the Arizona Department of Health, we are trending very positively when it comes to member usage,” Kluting said.
Considering the times, the gym is doing OK, he said.
Anytime Fitness in Peoria
Smaller gyms are getting a pushback from members, with the most pressing concerns centered around the mask guidelines and fears of catching COVID-19.
“People say they have breathing issues, asthma, anxiety attacks,” Sims said. “Because of COVID, we lost about 100 people.”
Although the gym allows 22 members at one given time, Anytime Fitness has not been close to half of the capacity, Sims noted. “I haven’t seen more than 14 people since we’ve been able to come back.”
Smart Gym in Peoria
Owner Jonnie Novello said that before the pandemic, his gym followed the safety guidelines, except the temperature checks, so he’s not sure why gyms were closed in the first place.
Now, he said, it seems like the staff is cleaning the clock. He even added a new employee whose job is to clean and enforce the 6-feet-distance rule.
“I love to help out people, but I’d love to pay my bills,” he said.
He said the new rules and caps on the number of people are making it very hard for gyms to make it right now, especially having to add more staff and more hours.
“My cleaning (cost) has gone up nearly $3,000, my labor has gone up $4,000 to $5,000, and I can only have 25% of people in my gym,” Novello said.
Several gym owners recognize the impact of COVID-19 but also realize the impact exercise can have on one’s well-being.
“Fitness and health go a long way. It helps to build their immune system and to fight infections,” Priscilla Ramos said.
The Arizona Department of Health Services will reassess guidelines every two weeks to make changes as necessary.