Gyms, fitness centers set to reopen on Monday with restrictions

Fitness classes, like this one at The Ice House: Wellness & Community in Wyoming, can resume Monday with limited class-size and six feet between each participant. Submitted photo/Jessica Moyer

DOVER — Classes will have fewer people, equipment will be spaced out and limited, but Delawareans will be able to experience a return to gyms, fitness centers and yoga studios this week.

Gyms will reopen Monday as part of the first phase of Gov. John Carney’s reopening plan following the state’s shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They will follow regulations set forth by the governor to ensure social distancing and proper cleaning protocols are met.

Exercise facilities can operate at 30% of their fire code capacity per the guidelines presented in Delaware’s reopening plan. Customers and staff must wear cloth face coverings in accordance with the State of Emergency Order.

Equipment will be spread out to maintain a distance of at least six feet between stations. All equipment must be thoroughly cleaned after each individual use.

Classes are allowed but must be within current social gathering limits and all participants must remain at least six feet apart at all times. Class area, including floor and any shared equipment will be cleaned prior to the next class entering the space. Customers should bring their own mats, drinks and towels.

“It was interesting to rearrange the studio to make it work, to make sure we can have six feet between each mat,” said Ruby Zulkowski, owner and lead instructor of Shakti Yoga LLC in Dover. “Everyone who signed up is thankful and super grateful the governor has allowed it to happen, They’re the people who were the most active with our online classes and they’re as excited as we are to get back in the studio.”

All of Delaware’s YMCA locations are scheduled to open Monday. The hours are slightly modified to allow for proper cleaning procedures.

The YMCAs will be open from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Friday, except the Sussex Family Y which will be 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday hours for YMCAs are 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Sussex Family Y: 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.) while all locations will be closed Sundays.

While the YMCA’s pools have opened, all paid programs, events and group sports in YMCA gyms such as basketball, pickleball, volleyball and racquetball are still suspended during the first phase.

In a press release, the YMCA said members can expect smaller group sizes in classes, spaced out equipment on the fitness center floor, the use of masks while not actively exercising or swimming, daily health screenings for staff, increased cleaning frequency and more. All the safety measures put in place are available at www.ymcade.org.

“At the Y, we know that building a strong immune system is more important than ever and staying active is key to our physical and mental health,” said Deborah Bagatta-Bowles, President and CEO. “Our staff have been working diligently to develop ways for all of us to reset our routines and get back to good health in a safe and positive way.”

Delaware’s Planet Fitness locations are also opening their doors Monday, including its three downstate locations in Dover, Milford and Seaford.

Planet Fitness is encouraging clients to use touchless check-in via the free Planet Fitness app. Some pieces of cardio equipment will be temporarily marked out of use to create additional distance.

Planet Fitness team members will receiver daily temperature checks and conduct 20-minute walk-arounds to continually clean and sanitize high-touch areas.

“Our team members conduct regular and thorough cleaning of all equipment, surfaces, and areas of the club and regularly complete deep cleanings,” Planet Fitness posted on its website. “Although we cannot eliminate all risks associated with COVID-19, we’ve taken several additional steps to strengthen our existing cleanliness policies and procedures to help keep you and our team members safe when your club reopens.”

Some local instructors will continue to film their fitness classes to upload online via ZOOM or Facebook.

Jessica Moyer, owner of The Ice House: Wellness & Community in Wyoming, can only have nine clients in a class at once due to the size of the building. She’s been teaching virtual classes throughout the pandemic and will keep filming when shifting to in-person classes for her members who cannot make the capped classes.

“We’re very excited to see everyone again,” Ms. Moyer said. “Everyone has missed that sense of community when we’re all together.”

Ms. Moyer said she is posting a checklist at the entrance so clients can double-check if they are following all the health guidelines recommended by the state and the Center for Disease Control. All nonessential items should be left in the car and clients are asked to bring their own mats.

Class sign-ups must be done online; drop-in registration is not allowed.

For most instructors, they can’t wait to see their clients to thank them for continuing to take online classes over the last few months.

“We definitely took a huge financial hit but just the support we got from the members who are loyal to the studio kept us motivated to come back.” Ms. Zulkowski said. “It was a rough couple of months there, just knowing I had all their support really made it possible. Without them, theres no way we would be able to reopen.


Helpful Coronavirus links

Delaware Division of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage
Reopening Delaware: Resources for Businesses
Delaware Phase 2 guidance

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