Gyms and fitness centers planning for new normal throughout COVID-19 pandemic

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Gyms and fitness centers are planning for a “new normal” once they are allowed to reopen.

It's still unclear when exactly that will happen in Minnesota, but fitness centers were included in President Donald Trump’s “phase one” plan for reopening the country, as long as “they adhere to strict physical distancing and sanitation protocols.”

Minnesota-based Alchemy 365 said people who attend classes at their studios can expect things to look different when they return.

“We’re certainly planning on long-term changes to our business model,” said Mike Jones, CEO of Alchemy 365.

Alchemy 365 has five locations in Minnesota and two in Colorado.

They are planning for a “slow return to the studio” with a phased approach for reopening:

  • Phase One: Reorganizing and sanitizing studios, while also doing some renovations and touch-ups.
  • Phase Two: Running outdoor classes each day on a consistent schedule at consistent locations, with social distancing protocols in place.
  • Phase Three: Holding classes in-studio with 10 people maximum (for social distancing purposes), and doing bodyweight exercises only, so no equipment is used.

Jones said, when studios reopen, they also plan to do no-touch check-in and allow 90 minutes between classes to make sure people are not passing each other on the way in and out.

“That way, in between classes, there’s also enough time for a full cleaning of the studio before the next group comes in,” Jones explained.

Coaches will wear masks, and no towels will be provided at their studios for at least the first few weeks.

“Everywhere you go in public there is a risk, so managing that risk and finding trusted places I think is key,” Jones said.

He said Alchemy studios are prepared to operate differently for potentially the next two years.

This link provides a more detailed look at their reopening plan.

Life Time, a nationwide chain with almost 30 Minnesota locations, is also making significant changes to its health clubs.

A spokesperson said: “As states and cities are laying out plans and guidance to open health clubs and spas, Life Time has been diligently working through detailed plans and safety protocols, in partnership with an epidemiologist and industrial hygienist. Our team is eager to get back to serving our members and we’ll do so quickly once when we know most of our members and team members have the confidence and peace of mind that Life Time will deliver the safest environments in our communities, just as we always have. In fact, this is the most important element of our decision. It is only once we have this knowledge that we will announce our reopening date. I also want to emphasize that we have developed detailed plans and safety protocols including enhanced cleaning measures using EPA-registered products and the strategic use of Life Time’s vast square footage to allow for ample social distancing.”

Life Time said some of the safety protocols include spacing out machines, spraying down equipment and requiring employees to wear masks and do self-temperature checks before work.

For a more detailed look at the changes Life Time plans to make, click here.