Gyms addressing outbreak with closures, cleaning protocols

Published 12:01 am Thursday, March 19, 2020

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Area gyms and fitness centers are establishing protocols in the spirit of preventing the spread of the coronavirus, with some even shutting their doors temporarily.

Planet Fitness, with a location at 4900 Twin City Highway in Groves, announced it is closing its facilities until March 31 and members will not have to pay during the closure period.

Planet Fitness CEO Chris Rondeau said, in a release, “the company is strongly encouraging its franchisees to (close). This was a difficult decision to make but we believe it is the right one.”

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A few other area gyms are deciding to stay open — at least for the time being.

Brittany Marlatt, co-owner of Fit Body Boot Camp at 401 Memorial Freeway in Nederland, said while she’s seen a reduction in gym attendance, many of her members are glad that the facility is open.

“We just came off of an eight-week challenge and a lot of those people are in that mindset that if they stop they’ll go back to their old habits,” Marlatt said. “We’re just trying our best to keep them going and keep them motivated.”
She said, however, that safety is the No. 1 priority. Staff are cleaning equipment and surfaces with Lysol and Clorox between every workout and session.

“We have hand sanitizer at the front door whenever you walk in and in the lobby areas,” she said. “We are encouraging everybody to use the pump when they come in and when they leave. We want to make sure they’re not touching anybody. We’re also just making sure that if members are coming in, they aren’t showing any signs or symptoms of anything. The ones that are deciding not to come in this week have been sent with home workouts for right now.”

Susan McGuire of Powerhouse Gym at 2825 Nall St. in Port Neches said Kids Club hours have been suspended and she’s encouraging staff and members to clean and sanitize equipment after use. Classes are limited to 10 people at a time in accordance to government guidelines.

“We do not want to be part of the problem,” McGuire said. “We want to be part of the solution. If city officials want us to close the gym, then obviously we’re going to go with what they feel like is best for the community.”

Until then, she says members are also glad the gym is open.

“We have also found that the gym industry is a sort of a release of stress for people,” she said. “Our members are extremely happy that we aren’t closing, but there are people who aren’t coming as well.”

Exygon Health and Fitness Club is also limiting class sizes and suspending their Kids Club program.

“Those kids just didn’t quite understand the six-foot rule,” Exygon owner Travis Dugger said. “I’ve taken all of my Kids Club staff and put them to work disinfecting all the equipment. We’re just trying to stay open for the members. I’ve got so many members thanking me left and right for trying to stay open as long as we could so they can relieve stress in a healthy way instead of going and buying a 12-pack of beer.”

Exygon will also begin offering online workouts posted by their personal trainers, which can be done at home. The gym also partners with Les Mills On Demand, which is providing 60 days of free streaming workouts to members.

Several other gyms are also in the process of setting up online workout programs to accommodate members who might not wish to risk the trip to the gym. Planet Fitness offers fitness content through their app and will provide “home work-ins” on their Facebook page streamed live. Fit Body Boot Camp is also working on videos featuring bodyweight workouts.

“We are planning to go live and do online classes so our members can continue to get a good workout from home,” Marlatt said. “It’ll be mostly body weight because that’s what most people will have. Not everybody will have equipment at home.

“No. 1 is safety. No. 2 is making sure we’re taking care of our members.”