- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 18, 2020

Mike Stantz is cleaning up big time in reopening his fitness club in Arizona, currently a hot spot for coronavirus infections.

The general manager of Tangible Fitness in Phoenix says his club has begun using an app that allows members to schedule 90-minute workout sessions during which only 35 people are allowed to be in the facility. The sessions are separated by 15-minute intervals to allow staffers to clean the center.

In addition, the fitness club is closed each day between 1 and 2:30 p.m. for a deep cleaning, Mr. Stantz says. Exercise machines are spread out, and spray sanitizers are plentiful throughout the facility.

“We’ve had an added increase of expense to make sure that that happens. But it is about the safety of our community first,” Mr. Stantz said.

Efforts similar to those of Tangible Fitness are being applied across the country as gyms and health clubs emerge from coronavirus closures and reconnect with their clientele.

Mayor Muriel Bowser announced Wednesday that fitness centers in the District of Columbia will be allowed to reopen with certain limitations starting Monday.

Forty-four states already have allowed gyms to reopen at least partially with some restrictions; health clubs in Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina and Wisconsin remain closed.

Mr. Stantz says Tangible Fitness lost 54% of its clients when it closed between April 1 and May 14, and reopened with 1,027 members. The center has steadily regained clients but is operating at just over 36%, serving 843 members of a 2,300 maximum per week.

Arizona is seeing an increase in coronavirus infections, reporting 35,691 cases and 1,188 deaths on Wednesday.

In Montana, where the pandemic has been less severe, health clubs are a bit more relaxed about their protocols. Rhonda Schlosser, manager of Crossroads Fitness Center in Helena, said her club is operating as it does during flu season: Employees wash their hands more, signs remind guests to practice social distancing and there are more sanitization stations.

“Our club is big, it’s not even a problem. We haven’t had to do anything different really besides block every other machine off and make sure people are cleaning the equipment,” Ms. Schlosser said, adding that her club’s size allowed it to reopen at 75% capacity.

Still, it was “horrible” when Crossroads Fitness was ordered to close between March 17 and May 15, she says.

“We didn’t charge our members. We had zero revenue coming in. And we’re a privately owned club, so that was not very fun,” Ms. Schlosser said.

Montana has some of the lowest coronavirus statistics in the country, reporting 573 cases and 18 deaths on Wednesday.

In South Carolina, Nick Kerzman says his health club near the North Carolina border has seen an overall expansion in its membership since the start of his state’s shutdown on March 31.

Mr. Kerzman, manager of Snap Fitness in Fort Mill, says his club petitioned the South Carolina Department of Commerce to reopen for members who needed to use the gym for medical reasons. Within a few days, the fitness center was running a limited operation.

Just 15 minutes from North Carolina, whose gyms remain closed, the Snap Fitness center in Fort Mill expanded its marketing and recruited members from north of the border, he says.

“Over the COVID quarantine period, you either had to reinvent yourselves or you basically pack up your tail, put it between your legs and call it a day,” Mr. Kerzman said.

South Carolina, which started reopening on May 4, is seeing an increase in coronavirus infections, with 18,795 cases and 600 deaths reported Wednesday.

The International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association has partnered with the International Confederation of Registers for Exercise Professionals European Register of Exercise Professionals to create a guide for fitness centers to evaluate their policies for reopening and procedures for sanitization.

Recommendations include marking the floors of pools, gyms and studios with 6-feet intervals to indicate proper social distancing and arranging equipment to improve ventilation.

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