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Safely reopening gyms helping people rebound from COVID-19 shutdowns

Planet Fitness implementing 90-page reopening plan
Posted at 4:54 PM, Jun 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-30 20:47:39-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — Many people across southern Colorado say reopening their gym has allowed them to get back to a routine they have been without for months. People say being able to get out of the house and safely back into the gym is benefiting them both mentally and physically.

While gyms and some activities have already been reopened under state guidelines, a variance request from El Paso County was approved by the Colorado Department of Health that will allow more capacity and include other guidelines. As of June 29, gyms and athletic training facilities are among the specified indoor businesses allowed to operate at a capacity up to 50 percent occupancy or 175 people, whichever is less.

"We were restricted to doing things in the home which was a little bit hard," said Susan Repp, who signed up to join a Colorado Springs Planet Fitness once the gym reopened.

"So it was a mental thing for me as well as a lot of people. It's just having the gym open again is like a weight was lifted off my back," said Michael Luper who says he was close to achieving his fitness goals prior to the coronavirus shutdown, but now has returned to the gym to get back on track.

"Some people really need that," said Planet Fitness Marketing Director Liz Gilbert. "I think that's what opening the gym allows them to do. To have that hour of dedicated time where you know your phone's not going off, the dog is not licking you in your face. You have that moment of you can just focus on yourself."

Regular exercise routines have proven to be beneficial for both your mental and physical health. Research has shown workouts can help to reduce stress and anxiety, boost happy brain chemicals to battle depression, assist the body in addiction recovery, can help you sleep better, and can even make others feel better inspiring them to start-up their own workout routines.

Planet Fitness developed a 90-page plan on how it would keep people safe once it reopened. See FAQ on their site. In the gym near Woodmen and I-25 in Colorado Springs you can see some of these strategies including "social fitnessing" where certain equipment is off to space people out, limiting the number of people in areas of the gym, constant disinfecting wipe-downs by both gym members and staff, plus limited hours to allow for extensive cleaning after hours.

Before you join any gym you may want to take a tour and make sure it is doing everything it can to keep you safe.

List of gyms in Colorado Springs
List of gyms in Pueblo

Here's where the Colorado Department of Public Health stands on guidance for personal recreation, including gyms and athletic training facilities. LINK

Participants and facilities are encouraged to:

  • Continue to physically distance, staying at least 6 feet from members of other households.
  • Encourage participants to stay home if sick or exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms. Consider screening participants for fever, symptoms, or exposures before or at their arrival.
  • Encourage participants who have been in close contact with a person suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 (generally within 6 feet for at least 10 minutes, depending on the level of exposure) to stay home and self-quarantine.
  • Encouraged to wear a mask while recreating.
  • Bring hand sanitizer to clean hands when soap and water is not available.

Indoor gyms, indoor fitness classes, recreation centers, bowling alleys, pools, indoor sports facilities. (This information does not reflect El Paso County's variance allowing for 50 percent capacity, yet the general guidelines to apply.)

  • Limit indoor facilities to up to 25% capacity, or 50 people, whichever is fewer, per room, so long as people can stay 6 feet apart from each other, excluding staff and coaches.
  • Limit the pool to 25% capacity, or up to 50 people.
  • It is strongly encouraged to limit pool activity to lap swim. If you permit open swim, make efforts to reduce in-pool interactions between people not in the same household.
  • Teams participating in organized recreation against one another, and as a result, experiencing greater contact, should still observe the limit of 25 players, excluding coaches.
  • Use a reservation system or use pre-existing electronic capacity monitoring systems if feasible to space out and limit participants gathered at one time.
  • Discourage use of any shared equipment, and ensure all equipment is cleaned and disinfected in between each use.
  • Take steps, such as closing off a series of lockers to promote physical distancing and reduce gatherings in restrooms, showers, and locker rooms.
  • Maximize ventilation by using fans and opening windows, wherever possible.
  • Provide access to hand sanitizer.
  • Request staff members and patrons wear face coverings when they can do so safely.
  • Conduct symptom and temperature checks for employees and refer symptomatic employees to the Colorado COVID Symptom Support tool (Additional Guidance).
  • Employees who exhibit COVID-19 symptoms should not come to work.
  • Employees who develop COVID-19 symptoms while at work should immediately notify their supervisor and be separated from others, sent home, and referred to state or company support services.
  • Post signs for employees and customers outlining good hand/respiratory hygiene and safety measures being taken. Signs should be in languages customers will understand. (CDC examples)