The Future of Fitness: How Mass. Gyms Are Preparing for Reopening

Once gyms reopen in Phase 3, there will be occupancy limits, cleaning protocols and members will have to be socially distant

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Until Gov. Charlie Baker's reopening plan, gyms in Massachusetts won't be allowed to reopen until Phase 3. But that's not stopping many from taking steps to get ready.

At Healthworks Fitness in Brookline, Massachusetts, staff members are training to use electrostatic backpack sprayers with hospital-grade disinfectants. They will use them to sanitize the equipment when the gym reopens.  

"We've got incredibly complicated and well thought out plans to keep everyone safe," said Healthworks and Republic Fitness President Mark Harrington. "We'll be constantly cleaning our clubs, and between each group of members who visit, we'll disinfect all high touch surfaces, and then two times a day we'll shut down the entire facility to go over the entire facility with electrostatic cleaning to make sure everything is completely disinfected to keep people safe." 

There will be occupancy limits, so you'll have to make a reservation in advance to sign up for a workout time, as well as keep your distance from others.

"We also set up the gym in a physically distant way, so we removed the equipment, turned off equipment, and we've put tape on the floors to make sure everyone has a dedicated workout area that is physically distant from each other," Harrington explained.

The club has installed plexiglass at the reception area, modified the water fountains, and has plenty of hand sanitizer available. Staff members will wear masks and gloves. Locker rooms, steam rooms, showers and their kid's club will remain closed.  

"We're confident we can create a safe environment for the community today," Harrington said. 

Harrington says a recent survey of their members revealed a majority of them are ready to come back to the gym, including member Mala Rafik.

"The social distancing within the gym is very important to me, and I'm grateful they've done that, and I'm grateful they've marked that out," Rafik said. "I'm actually ready to head back with no reservations."

Rafik does plan to continue virtual workout sessions she's enjoyed during the shutdown and the company says it will keep them going. 

"We think this hybrid fitness approach is here to stay," Harrington said. "We need to diversify our business to make sure we can make up for the members who don't feel safe coming back, until the vaccine is out, through online and remote offerings. I think the world has changed and every business is going to be different than it used to be." 

If Phase 3 starts on the earliest possible date, gyms can finally reopen July 6.

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