Local gyms adapt to re-opening orders — “Be smart. Use social distancing.”

Published 12:18 am Tuesday, May 12, 2020

NEDERLAND — It’s been two months since anyone has set foot in a gym, but due to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s most recent announcement, the wait is almost over.

On May 18 all gyms, exercise facilities and exercise classes are able to re-open to the public. The catch? Operational limits.

Exygon Health and Fitness Club Mid-County location, 1001 Nederland Ave., will be reopening on May 18. (Cassandra Jenkins/The News)

Gyms choosing to partake in the next phase of re-opening must operate at a 25 percent capacity, clean and disinfect equipment before and after use and maintain proper social distancing.

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Exygon Health and Fitness Club President Travis Dugger said he is up for the challenge.

“We are very excited,” Dugger said. “We were hoping to open on the first [of May], but we are glad we are able to re-open for the early part of phase two.”

Exygon has locations in Nederland and Beaumont.

Dugger said the Exygon family prepared for re-opening in early May by completing a deep cleaning throughout the entire gym, posting informative signs on all doors and setting up a hand washing station for use upon arrival.

All equipment is spaced at least 6 feet apart with cardio machines marked for every other use.

Locker rooms, showers, saunas and steam rooms will remain locked, per Abbott’s orders. The kid’s club will also stay closed.

“When we were expecting to open on May 1, we went ahead and already did all of our deep cleaning and re-furnishing,” Dugger said. “The majority of our equipment is already 7 feet apart and the select ones that aren’t, we have signs to have one machine able to use at a time.”

A sign reminds all members entering the Mid-County Exygon location to wash hands before using equipment. 

The 330,000 square foot Mid-County facility must operate at 25 percent capacity.

Dugger said an average day reads between 10-40 percent at any given time.

“We are never at a 100 percent capacity,” he said. “People spread out and not everyone is coming back at once, so after talking to several other gym owners that opened in other states, I don’t think it’s going to be an issue.”

If needed, Exygon will activate a reservation system to regulate guests allowed in the gym.

“That’s the good thing about having a big gym,” Dugger said. “We have multiple equipment that does the same thing. For instance, we have 15 bicep curls, so people aren’t just waiting around for one machine to open.”

Employees will be stationed throughout the entire gym, including the restrooms, to disinfect after each use.

Members are also asked to play their role in cleanliness by utilizing the wiping stations available in each area.

“I’d say the biggest thing is if you aren’t feeling well, don’t come,” Dugger said. “Be smart. Use social distancing. Be clean and be aware of what’s going on.”

Travis Dugger cleans equipment in the Mid-County location Monday to prepare for the gym’s reopening on May 18.

Group classes will also resume Monday on a limited schedule. Classes will decrease from hour lessons to 45 minutes to allow for ample disinfecting time.

Membership dues will not resume until June 1. The 99-day, $99 offer will extend through the end of June.

“We are ready for them,” Dugger said. “We’ve had our die-hard customers begging us to reopen since we closed down and we’re ready to serve the community again.”

While customers are not required to wear gloves or masks in the gym, it is highly recommended.”

Mid-County Exygon, 1001 Nederland Avenue, will open Monday (May 18) at 4 a.m. Tuesday-Thursday, the gym will be open 24 hours, Friday until 9 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

The YMCA of Port Arthur will follow similar restrictions by opening its swimming pool on May 11 and workout facilities on May 18.

CEO Kevin Pearson, who arrived in the midst of the pandemic, is eager to finally see foot traffic within the Y.

“To finally meet people and say ‘Hi, I am …’ and get names and faces is so exciting,” he said. “Just to see people finally coming back into the building is amazing.”

The YMCA of Port Arthur made the most of its closed time by renovating, cleaning, resurfacing gym floors, painting walls and retiling locker rooms.

Pearson said the return to the new and improved YMCA will be a slow and steady process.

“We’re going to see how it goes first,” he said. “It’s been slow starting, so we are running with that. We want to see what the traffic is like. We don’t want to make this difficult for people unless things get wild. Then we’ll make adjustments as needed.”

Temperatures will be taken for every guest before entering the YMCA.

Inside the weight room guests will be required to wear gloves (rubber or workout).

Group exercise classes will be moved into the gymnasium. No group sports are allowed at this time.

Only six swimmers will be allowed in the pool at a time, first come, first served.

Masks are also highly recommended within the Y.

“It’s just exciting to be coming into this point where people get to see each other again,” Pearson said. “I think we are all ready for a little social time, but we have to remember to keep that physical distance.

“We’ve been doing a lot of virtual connection. We know people are viewing the classes online, but it’s no substitute for being with an instructor, using equipment and swimming laps.”