Gyms and health clubs in the US have begun reopening their doors, with a number of states allowing fitness facilities to return to business. We look at who's opening where, under what restrictions and how members are responding.
Among the first to reopen were Tennessee, Georgia and Oklahoma, (1 May), followed by Arkansas (4 May), Montana (15 May) and South Carolina (18 May).
Florida activated "Phase 1" of its reopening strategy on 18 May, which saw gyms – alongside restaurants, shopping malls – reopening at 50 per cent capacity. All businesses that decide to open their doors in the state have to adhere to safety protocols, such as the wearing of face masks and social distancing.
Elsewhere, Texas reopened its gyms on 18 May too – but has instigated a number of strict measures to accompany the return to business. Fitness facilities can only reopen at 25 per cent capacity, while all showers and changing facilities remain shut. All gym equipment must be cleaned and disinfected after each use and members are advised to wear gloves and maintain social distancing.
Among the major chains to have restarted operations is Gold's Gym.
"Finally, after months of closures, our gyms are gearing up to reopen their doors to members again," said CEO Adam Zeitsiff.
"We’re reopening 50 gyms across Texas and I had the honour of visiting our Gold's Gym location in West Edmond, Oklahoma. The team spent the day making final preparations for the grand reopening. This will be one of our first corporate gyms to reopen to the public.
"Safety is our first priority and I don’t think I can thank the Gold’s Gym family enough for all the hard work and dedication they’ve put in leading up to these reopenings. Every week we are able to reopen more and more gyms, and I can’t wait until we’re all back up and running."
There is some anecdotal evidence, however, that in places fitness operators might have their work cut out in enticing members to return to gyms.
In Arkansas, the CEO of gym chain 10 Fitness told local media
that sites were seeing around 25 per cent of their normal traffic.
As each state has the power to enforce lockdowns, there are also many that have ordered gyms to remain closed.
In some of the states in which lockdowns remain in place, fitness businesses have attempted to take matters into their own hands and reopen their doors against the edicts.
States in which gym owners have ignored lockdown measures and reopened their sites include Massachusetts
, New Jersey,
and Washington State
To seek clarity, and to stress the role gyms can play in improving the nation's health, IHRSA has begun contacting state governors – both in areas in which gyms are already open and in those in which they remain closed.
“We’re reaching out to governors for two important reasons," said Joe Moore, president and CEO of IHRSA.
"First, to demonstrate the need for clubs to open as soon as is safely possible.
"It is vital that state administrators appreciate that health and fitness clubs are integral to the overall health and wellness of their communities.
“And, second, it’s important that these state administrators are aware that club operators want – and have prepared –to help establish opening procedures that prioritise health and safety.”