LIMA — Group fitness classes are moving outdoors. Personal trainers are going digital. And fitness centers are rearranging their equipment or blocking off every other machine to ensure social distancing is possible as Ohioans return to the gym.
But even as gyms upgrade their sanitation standards and encourage members to bring their own water bottles or towels from home, frequent gym members will likely notice that not much has changed.
“We’ve always had hand sanitizer and disinfectant,” said Rebecca Manger, owner of the Wapak Athletic Club in Wapakoneta. “People wiped down their equipment. I loaded up on (disinfectants). We’re just reiterating that fact.”
Manger started offering outdoor group fitness classes earlier this month and reopened her club for the first time in nearly 10 weeks on Tuesday. She removed some cardio equipment and limited the club’s capacity to adhere to Ohio’s health guidelines for gyms and fitness clubs. She’s even allotted special times each day to disinfect the gym, which is open 24 hours per day.
“People are excited about getting back into a routine,” she said.
Ohio’s guidelines for gyms, dance studios and fitness centers call for frequent disinfection of high-contact surfaces, deep cleaning after hours, reduced group fitness class sizes and capacity restrictions.
To prevent spread of the virus in locker rooms and communal areas, Ohio is requiring gyms to disable steam rooms, saunas and communal-style showers, unless the shower is used to rinse off prior to swimming. Locker rooms should disable every other or every third locker. Public areas and restrooms are to be cleaned and disinfected every two hours, focusing on faucets, toilets, doorknobs, light switches and other high-touch surfaces.
Employees are required to wear gloves and face coverings while touching towels, although some gyms, like Anytime Fitness on Elida Road, have already started asking members to bring their own towel.
Even restrooms should have limited capacity so that crowding doesn’t occur, according to the state’s guidelines for gyms and fitness centers.
Much like grocery stores, Ohio is asking gyms to set aside special hours for vulnerable populations to work out. And fitness centers are encouraged to have guests check in upon arrival to make contact tracing easier should an employee or gym member tests positive for COVID-19.
To reduce the spread of respiratory droplets, gyms are also encouraged to keep doors open and point fans away from guests.
That’s the approach of Alexa Miller, franchise owner of Anytime Fitness on Elida Road. There are no more box fans in Miller’s facility, which relies instead on air conditioning and an open garage door out back to keep the gym cool.
While Miller was quick to reopen as soon as Ohio law allowed, others are taking an extra week or two to train staff and update their facilities to meet the state’s new standards.
“For us, the only thing that’s a downfall is that we’re not able to host our community workouts,” said Nick Sanchez, owner of Team Stomp CrossFit on Cable Court, which will reopen on June 1.
Team Stomp would often host more than 50 non-members for community workouts and open gyms on the weekends, Sanchez said. While those events are on hold, he plans to resume the gym’s standard crossfit classes next month.
Reach Mackenzi Klemann at 567-242-0456.