When gyms reopen, what will yours look like?

More businesses have begun to reopen around the region — but not gyms and fitness centers, which used to be a daily staple for many people.

Some trainers have started working with people in parks while maintaining social distancing and some gyms are holding classes in parking lots. But gyms haven’t fully reopened yet, and when they do, they’re going to be very different.

“If you’re a huge big-box gym, it’s going to look a lot different than if you’re a smaller studio or even a smaller group training facility,” said AJ Perez, a personal trainer with Foundation Fitness and a contributor to the magazine, Men’s Health. “Big gyms will be closing throughout the day, limiting capacity, of course. There will be a lot fewer people inside, and that’s not only because there are going to be occupancy restrictions. It’s also because a lot of people aren’t going to rush back to the gym right away.”

Perez said gyms have had little guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or even state and local governments. But a look at what’s happening in other states holds some hints as to other ways things might be different.

“A lot of states are requiring masks for employees. They’re requiring temperature checks, and any kind of symptom checks,” said Perez.

Once you get inside, things will probably look different too.

“There could be partitions next to the elliptical machines,” he said. “The ellipticals and the cardio machines in the big gyms — they may have to police-tape off a few of them to give people space.”

That could affect smaller gyms and the group fitness studios that had been gaining in popularity before the pandemic began.

“It’s the Orangetheorys, the various boot camps, where you’re sharing things — where you’re sharing weights, you’re sharing bands, you’re sharing the treadmill,” Perez said. “That’s going to make it really hard for them at least until there’s a vaccine.”

“Orangetheory is actually going to start making people wear masks,” he added. He said the front desk workers will be outfitted with personal protective equipment, while instructors will wear surgical mask and members will have to wear some kind of cloth face mask, “which is not easy to do when you’re on the treadmill doing an interval session there.”

With some bigger gyms no longer paying leases, and others in dire shape even before the pandemic started, some changes will end up cutting down on gyms’ bottom lines.

“The gym has been vacant” for the last two months, Perez said. And places that can’t easily reopen with social distancing measures will have a hard time sticking around, he predicted.

More Coronavirus news

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

John Domen

John started working at WTOP in 2016 after having grown up in Maryland listening to the station as a child. While he got his on-air start at small stations in Pennsylvania and Delaware, he's spent most of his career in the D.C. area, having been heard on several local stations before coming to WTOP.

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