Life Time, a Minnesota-based athletic club chain, announced Thursday that it would begin requiring masks to be worn within its workout facilities to slow the spread of COVID-19 — and it also developed a set of training guidelines on how to get back into shape with a mask on.
“Our decision to require masks across all clubs is a response to the ongoing concerns nationwide,” COO Jeff Zwiefel said in a statement. “And, in addition to our health and safety protocols already in place, is a simple but effective measure for providing our valued members with the safest environment possible and to remain open, which helps ensure the livelihood and employment of our team members.”
The move comes as gyms and fitness centers reopen or approaching reopening around the country, and as states and local governments look at both ways to ease coronavirus restrictions and avoid a new surge.
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Life Time said it has so far reopened 125 of its more than 150 U.S. and Canadian locations “in some capacity.” More than 100 of those locations are in areas where local regulations already mandate masks, but the company’s requirement will take effect Monday, July 27, at all of its reopened locations.
Members will be required to wear masks in all common areas and when meeting social distancing guidelines is impossible.
Founder and CEO Bahram Akradi told “The Ingraham Angle” in late March that he and the rest of the company’s executive team would be going without compensation and redirecting the money to pay rank-and-file workers during the coronavirus shutdowns around the country — but he also warned that without a set date for reopening, a great deal of those workers would face furloughs.
On Friday, with most of its locations reopened, the company declined to give an update on its employee compensation but said the executive leadership team was still going without pay “for the greater good of its team members, members and the business.”
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During the coronavirus crisis, Life Time has enlisted a team of experts to develop a plan to teach gymgoers how to breathe properly with a face mask on during a workout and what to eat to have your body optimize its oxygen use. And the company said it has designed and will soon begin selling its own “athletic performance mask.”
With about 40,000 employees, another shutdown could be disastrous for both workers and customers who want to get back into their routines.
The suggestions include lowering the intensity of your workouts until you’re used to wearing a mask, practicing your breathing, and taking vitamin B12, folate, iron and creatine monohydrate with your supplements and nutrients.
Other major gym chains have also described plans on how they might change their operations as the reopening continues.
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At the top of the list for Gold’s Gym, at least at its corporately owned locations, are social distancing and increased sanitization measures. Employees will be required to wear masks and gloves and the gym designed a one-hour “intermission” from 1 to 2 p.m. to restock and clean the facilities.
Gold’s Gym CEO Adam Zeitsiff told Fox News earlier this month that fitness centers had voluntarily shut down around the country before governments enforced their own closures due to concerns for the health of their communities.
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But now, after implementing precautions to slow the spread of the coronavirus, he said, it is time to let people return to their workouts as best they can.
“Exercising, it is medicine,” he said.
Fox News’ Janine Puhak, Charles Creitz and Sam Dorman contributed to this report.