Health clubs allowed to resume group classes as portions of governor’s order dials back

Fitness centers in Minnesota can resume group exercise classes and reopen pools after a six-week closure, as part of the governor’s plan to dial back some of the state’s restrictions.

"I signed up about as soon as I could," said Chip Allen, a member of the Woodbury YMCA who typically does 11 classes per week. "With the music and the other people, it’s sort of a subconscious thing that drives you."

The first week of January is normally the busiest time of year for gyms and health clubs but they are still only allowed to be open at 25% capacity in Minnesota.

"It’s amazing that we’re walking into our facilities here in January and you can find parking," said Mike Lavin, vice president of operations for YMCA of the North, which runs YMCA’s in Minnesota and western Wisconsin. "But we’re still excited to see all those familiar faces. Our goal here at the YMCA is to make sure that everyone is healthy and happy in 2021."

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Under the governor’s most recent order, people must keep 12 feet of distance between others inside gyms and wear a mask at all times, including while exercising.

Lavin said YMCA of the North understands not everyone is ready to work out at a gym with others because of the pandemic, so they are trying to "meet people where they’re at" by offering both in-person and virtual options.

Lifetime, which is based in Minnesota, said group fitness classes are capped at nine participants and they are doing intensive cleaning between sessions.

"We’ve been waiting for this moment for quite some time," said Jessica Feldman, Lifetime’s group fitness marketing manager.

Feldman said members must reserve a time slot online in advance for a group fitness class.

Members can also check the Lifetime app to see when the clubs are busy if they prefer to go during off-peak times.

"We’ve adapted so much in 2020 and we’re continuing to adapt in 2021," Feldman said.