After two months of state-mandated closures, gyms were allowed to re-open recently as the state continued to lift limitations and restrictions.

The state allowed gyms to reopen on Monday, May 18 as long as the business stayed under 25 percent capacity.

Wharton’s Anytime Fitness opened its doors at 10 a.m. While it is a 24-hour gym, people who wanted to work out had to wait for the doors to get unlocked Monday morning. 

Justin Lathon, general manager with Anytime Fitness, said people were waiting outside in their vehicles for him to arrive and open the business.

“Today you saw the enthusiasm, everyone was waiting in their cars with their doors open,” Lathon said.

With all of the gym’s key equipment turned back on, it offers a chance for their customers to start building some normalcy back into their lives.

During the shutdown, Lathon still went to work. Instead of signing people up and managing the gym, he used the time to take apart and clean the equipment, readying it for the time Anytime Fitness would eventually reopen.

To protect gym-goers, during prime after work hours, they will close every other treadmill to help force social distancing. They have sanitization wipes placed throughout the gym for people to use after they are finished with the equipment. The gym has also hired cleaning staff to help with keeping the equipment sterilized in the morning and during peak hours. They also have more restrictions on a board for people to read when they enter the gym.

“It’s a gym, people still have fitness goals regardless of the pandemic,” Lathon said. “People still need the gym for health reasons. Forget looking, it’s all about health. We’re still here until the governor tells us otherwise.”

In Gov. Greg Abbott’s Phase II re-opening announcement earlier this month, he did not give guidance on when gyms could expand to 50 percent.

Monitoring social media

According to Anytime Fitness, employees are not monitoring voice messages when someone has an inquiry about business operations. A recording on Tuesday, May 26 said one should visit the Anytime Fitness Facebook page for answers and information.

Anytime Fitness did provide FAQ in a Facebook post dated Friday, May 15. Regardless, people still had plenty of questions once the business opened the following week.

The following is from that Facebook post:

Our reopening is something we’ve been planning for (and excited about) since the day we shut down. We knew in advance that the right way to reopen would be a decision met with uncertainty and scrutiny, and rightfully so. We are confident that by reopening the gym slowly and cautiously we can begin satisfying our members while not increasing the risk of spreading COVID-19. 

Some of the restrictions and scaled operations we will enforce during this initial phase won’t be a perfect fit for everyone; we simply ask you to respect that we are trying to meet everyone in the middle. 

We are asking for your trust, support, cooperation, and positive attitude as we all navigate this together. Our entire business is built around putting one foot in front of the other and improving just a little bit every day. A healthy lifestyle and wellness is not measured in minutes or hours but days, months, and years of doing the right thing. Consistency over time equals results. We will be patient, we will be careful, and we will make this work.

As we begin reopening the facility, here are some of the steps we will be taking to ensure that safety, cleanliness, and order is kept:

1. We will be open to members beginning May 18 at 10 a.m. with our usual 24/7 access.

2. We will not be offering group fitness classes until local authorities deem it safe to do so.

3. In order to work out, you will be required to wipe down equipment before and after use. We have cleaning solutions and wipes readily available. If we see, or are alerted to, a failure to do this, you will be asked to leave. We want to keep the gym safe and this is an easy way that your participation can help make that happen.

4. All staff will continue to diligently clean equipment, bathrooms, and any other surfaces that you may come in contact with throughout the day.

5. We are required to facilitate proper social distancing protocols until further notice and have rearranged equipment in order to do so. Some pieces will be temporarily unavailable (like alternating pieces of cardio) to help accomplish this. We ask that you do not attempt to move signs or equipment while in the club.

6. Check your temperature before coming to the gym. Personal responsibility is something all of us can employ whether we want to go to the gym, grocery store, or even the park. You will always be the best monitor of you.

7. Per state guidelines, our private showers will be unavailable until further notice.

8. Be courteous, be respectful, be a team player. If we all buckle down and work together on this we will make it successfully out the other side.

By following these steps we believe that we can reopen slowly while ensuring we do not contribute to the spread of this virus. Should further guidance come from the governor’s office we will employ whatever measures they provide. We only want to do what’s best for the long term health of our members, our staff, and our fitness community. There has never been a time that we’ve needed your support more than now and we have faith that we will get through this together.

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