WARSAW — They’ve been ready and waiting.
Like a lot of other gyms and fitness centers across the GLOW Region, Jacked 24/7 Fitness was prepared to reopen as part of the state’s Phase 4 in June.
That was delayed, of course, due to ongoing concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic. But word came Monday that they’ll now be able to open as soon as Aug. 24.
“I am thankful to be able to reopen in the near future,” said owner Jen Daniel of Jacked 24/7. “We have been making preparations all along with the purchase of new cleaning equipment to help us deep clean more efficiently, rewriting our cleaning practices which were already very good, as cleanliness was always very important to us.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Monday that gyms statewide can reopen next week after indoor exercise facilities were closed in mid-March amid a wave of COVID-19 infections and deaths.
Gyms can reopen Aug. 24, but localities must inspect them by Sept. 2.
They’ll only be able to operate at 33% capacity, and masks will be mandatory at all times when inside. Patrons must sign in and out when entering or exiting a gym to streamline contact tracing if there’s a spread of the coronavirus.
“Gyms are one of the areas you have to be very careful and we know that,” Cuomo said. “If it’s not done right, it can be a problem, and we’ve see that.
“It’s an area of concern — that’s why we went slow on it.”
At Monday’s Genesee County Public Service Committee meeting, Legislature Chair Rochelle Stein said the ability for gyms to open, and under what circumstances, Cuomo has said, is up to the county and the chief elected officials.
“The earliest they can be open in Aug. 24, but they must be inspected by the local health department, but we don’t know for what code, because they only have the authority for the sanitary code,” she said. “We also get to decide if they can hold classes or not in the gyms. I just wanted to put you on alert that there may have to be a conversation, folks, together in regards to gyms and if we want them to open by Aug. 24 or not, along with our Public Health Department Director Paul Pettit.
As of Monday evening, the guidelines have yet to be announced formally, so some details remain to be determined.
“We will need to find out more about the requirements for the HVAC and so far they have not released more guidance to our local health department so we are still waiting for that,” Daniel said. “I do not think the 33 percent will be a big issue for us as our facility can accommodate many, and we stagger our classes, and training so we should not have occupancy issues.”
The past six months have bene very challenging, she said.
Located on Buffalo Street in Warsaw, Jacked switched immediately to online Zoom classes and personal training when the statewide “pause” was announced in March. As the weather became nicer, the business also began offering outdoor classes.
Daniel said Jacked offered an open gym session on its Facebook page with free daily workouts, nutrition and meditation advice, along with kid’s Zoom sessions.
Still, the news of imminent reopening is more than welcome.
“It has been a difficult time but also our members and community have been incredibly supportive,” Daniel said. “We cannot thank everyone enough for all they have done to help keep us going.”
The GLOW YMCA is also excited to restart its fitness programming, said Chief Executive Officer Robert Walker.
The organization’s fitness centers have been shut down since March 17 when the pandemic initially hit locally, he said. It’s expected they’ll open sometime next week, although the exact details are still being determined.
“We need to work with our local health department and will have more information tomorrow,” he said. “We’ve got a 28-page reopening plan we’ve had since June and we’ve been waiting to utilize it.”
Although the Y’s fitness centers have been closed, they’re just one part of its operations, and the organization pivoted during the shutdown. It offered virtual learning for its pre-k programs from March to June and is currently conducting popular outdoor day camps serving 172 children as of Monday.
Walker said the organization has experienced a “tremendous” increase in financial aid, with members and supporters giving 113,000.
The ability to reopen is exciting, he said, and they were awaiting further guidelines.
The Y wants to make sure it keeps its members safe, but Walker said he believes the need is for members to get back to a sense of normalcy, and health and wellness, along with the Y’s social aspects.
We’ll be ready,” said CEO Robert Walker of the GLOW YMCA. “It’s very exciting and encouraging.”
‘A LONG 23 WEEKS’
Jessica Pratt, owner and coach at Whole Life Fitness, 624 East State St. in Batavia, is looking forward to reopening.
“It sounds like we can (reopen) as long as we follow the local (guidelines). He (Cuomo) really didn’t give much detail. We can open at 33 percent occupancy We have to mandate masks at all times,” she said. “We’re ready to go as soon as we get the clear.”
Pratt said she anticipates opening Monday. Whole Life has reached out to the county Health Department and will wait for guidelines.
Cuomo said localities must inspect gyms before they can reopen, or within two weeks of their reopening, to be sure the facilities are meeting all the necessary requirements.
Pratt said the shutdown has been “a long 23 weeks.”
“I ran online classes in the beginning until June and then we did outdoor classes in the beginning of June, when we were allowed to have gatherings of 10,” she said.
Whole Life Fitness has an app that people will be able to use to check in for the specific time slots they will be at the gym.
“The have to register for the time they will be at the gym. When they physically get to the gym, they scan their key fob. It lets me know who has been to the gym and there’s a record of that,” she said.
“They only need to do it when they come in because they’re in a time slot. If they come in from 1-3, they scan at 1 and then we know they were in from 1-3.”
Whole Life Fitness is a 24-hour-a-day full gym, Pratt said.
“We hold classes and we also have a full fitness center For 33 percent capacity, I’m allowed to have 40 people inside. My capacity is 130,” she said. “Half of the gym is an open floor plan where I teach the classes.”
Whole Life’s classes include training, Boot Camp, cycling, and Zumba.
“We also have specialty classes like Nutrition Challenges, Olympic Lifting, Power Lifting, Sport Specified Training, Yoga, and Personal Training,” she said. “We definitely won’t have 40 people in the gym at one time, maybe four to six at the most.”
Pratt said she’s kept in touch with gym members during the shutdown, emailing them monthly. She said they’ve continued to be supportive during the closure.
“I’ve met new people who wouldn’t normally do outdoor classes,” she said, adding that those people have signed up for them in order to stay active. “I’ve had a really good following throughout this whole thing.”
Along with registering and checking in for time slots at the gym, those who use the gym when it opens will need to bring spray towels and hands sanitizer to wipe off the exercise equipment when they’re done.
“(I’m) letting them know that I do have a disinfectant fogger and that I’ll be fogging the gym twice a day in the afternoon and in the evening — letting people know that I’m doing my part as well as they pull their weight.”
Pratt said Whole Life Fitness has blocked off some cardio equipment to maintain social distancing.
“I’ll be there to see how this pans out. I’ve only had three or four members in there at a time that aren’t in a class. If membership increases and I have more people coming in, we will have to re-evaluate that.”