On one hand, I am ecstatic about the possibility of reopening up our economy. To know that restaurants and shops can reopen is obviously good for our economy.  Since everyone is different on where they stand relative to it being too soon or too late, I’ll let the politico’s get that sorted.  

One approach: Opening gyms safely

machines, weight, weights
A Bay-area gym sits empty, waiting for a reopening

This is a health, wellness and fitness blog.  I know it seems that the theme never changes but until someone tells me we are where we need to be, I feel a compulsion to continue bringing my message to the masses.   So here we are, 8 weeks into quarantine.  Some of us want to simply get back to our gym so that we can maintain what we do to stay healthy.   I also argue that everyone who has fear of the COVID19 should be pondering a change to add PA to their lifestyle as well.  Can anyone give me a compelling argument as to why we should not make this an urgent need to be addressed?

Obviously, we all understand why we need to open up safely.  This virus seems to be extremely contagious and gyms are a ripe environment.  But the solutions dont seem to be fleshed out very well.  For example, Bay area 24Hour Fitness will open with a system to reserve a time in the gym.  Let us look at that and ponder its application into the reopening plan.

If you’ve been to a gym with any regularity, you see a lot of the same people – day in/day out.  They are there to meet up with friends, work out their stress and build their bodies.  Most of the time, the timeframe between 4PM and 8PM is considered “prime time”.   This is when most people use the gym.  Oddly enough, they tell me it’s like this in the very early morning but I will never see it to verify this.   I have in the past, so I know it’s true.  But this crowd is different.  Often times, it’s seniors who are there for social reasons, and they will spend hours at the gym.  I think that’s great.

So now, Betty and JoeBob want to resume their morning routine with their retired friends.  They log onto their app (could be a problem for many seniors if they are like my Dad) and they try to get their space.   Oooops.  The club only has room for a few people, they did not make the cut.  Still, they pay their monthly dues.   Do you see where I’m going with this? 

Later that day, a body builder tries to get in on his or her lunch break.   Oooops.   Sorry, they’re booked.  Yet he or she is still paying their dues.

Later in the evening, a lucky member makes it in.  They have a time limit – either 45 minutes or an hour.  They try to get their workout in, but texters and instagram stars have been using their phones to rest on machines that the member needs and the time is ticking.  Someone else who is ‘inbound’ is relying on that space opening up.  But the texter doesn’t care.   Those who aren’t millennials -aka boomers – will have to understand and wait.   Tension builds.   The front desk attendant may have to actually put their phone down and intervene, telling a member… ‘your time is up, please leave’.  At one point, collapse of the plan is imminent.  People wont pay for a gym that they can not use. 

Gym managers have challenges ahead

One of the biggest factors in managing a gym is retention.   Cancellations are bad.  A club GM is evaluated (and bonused) by their members and retention.   So the challenge is real.  But clubs are now being told to hire a “contact cleaner” to wipe up the DNA we leave behind on machines.  This is a salary need that is not in the 2020 budget.  It can be for next year – but we can’t wait that long.  

The  reality:  we ALL have challenges ahead.  We can get through it, but there has to be a clear plan.   One thing not helping is the different phases at different times – and gyms being in phase 2 in one state, in phase 3 of another.   And the social distancing that is very hard in gyms has to be better planned, or the return of the fitness industry will be botched.   We have an opportunity here… to build herd immunity among healthy people in a gym.   We need to have that discussion and implement it.   Let’s work with what we know versus what we predict – and maybe, we can get one part of our virus response correct.

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