After Gov. Doug Ducey’s announcement earlier this month about facilities reopening, gyms throughout Scottsdale have begun opening their doors to the public again with new safety precautions put in place.
For two months, gyms in Arizona were forced to close as a way to promote physical distancing and slow the spread of COVID-19. Both members and gym owners have been anxious to resume business for health and economic reasons.
Local resident Pam Kirby recently was able to return to Orange Theory for her first class since the closures were ordered. Ms. Kirby says that she’s been waiting patiently for services like these to start serving customers again.
“They opened the gym very responsibly and the [clients] were happy to be back there [and it] was a great workout,” she said.
According to Ms. Kirby, at the McCormick Ranch Orange Theory branch, there was a multitude of precautions put in place to address any health or safety concerns. Amongst the precautions taken, visitors were not allowed to linger in the lobby, and equipment was cleaned thoroughly by the staff after each class. During workouts, wearing masks was an optional choice for guests.
With these changes though, the class camaraderie has definitely shifted and classes have become less of a social atmosphere Ms. Kirby explained. Limited class sizes and physical distancing has made the experience much more different than how it used to be.
“It wasn’t how it used to be and I very, very much look forward to getting to that place again,” Ms. Kirby said.
Gyms across the country have had to make these changes though as part of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines for reopening. Bill Crawford, the owner of Basic Training in Scottsdale, says that implementing these adjustments has been relatively smooth as they reopen their more public side of their facility.
“We’ve always been known for our attention to detail in keeping an immaculate facility that’s one of the things that people have always appreciated,” Mr. Crawford said. “And now, it’s been raised to an even higher standard.”
As a part of their response to the coronavirus outbreak, Basic Training has temporarily closed shower services in the facility and has started conducting questionnaires for members coming in about their recent health.
“We are also limiting the amount of people that come into the facility, each hour and that seems to be working out well for us,” Mr. Crawford said.
Like Orange Theory, Mr. Crawford’s gym implemented a slew of different precautions such as temperature checks at the door, frequent cleanings of all machinery, as well as frequent handwashings.
Another concern for his gym was their history of frequent short-term members. He explained that they often get a lot of people visiting from out of town who would like to go to a gym during their stay and since the outbreak they have had to stop offering those memberships.
“We don’t know where they’ve come from and exposed to and we feel that that’s not fair for the other members who have their faith and confidence that we’re taking care of them,” Mr. Crawford said.
Basic Training was able to keep part of their facilities open during the gym closures as they provide an essential service for people who need pain and mobility treatment and just recently opened up the other part of their facility that is focused on fitness training for members. Other gyms that do not offer services like that have been entirely shut down and unable to make any profits during this time.
At Village Health Clubs, which has multiple locations in Scottsdale, they are still in the process of preparing to reopen on June 1. Carol Nalevanko, president of Village Health Clubs, said that this has been a particularly trying time for gyms like theirs.
“It’s actually been very challenging because all the social distancing and all the requirements and safety guidelines that we’re putting in place go against the Village model, which is all about human connection,” Ms. Nalevanko said.
During the two months that they have been shut down, only 44 of their roughly 500 employees were working while the rest were furloughed.
According to her, they have had to use a significant amount of their cash reserves to stay afloat. Ms. Nalevanko said that in the coming weeks, with their reopenings, 55% of their staff will be able to come back and start working again.
“We’d like members to be understanding and patient because we’ve never been through anything like this before and maybe to take a step back and consider what the [company] has also endured,” Ms. Nalevanko said.
Like Basic Training, Village Health Clubs has been putting together plans that reduce some of their services to their members while also inputting plans to increase cleanliness throughout their facilities. They also have worker protections including plastic guards at their desk areas along with mandatory masks and temperature checks for employees.
Ms. Nalevanko expressed that although it has been a challenge to prepare all these new adjustments for their guests, the team at Village Health Clubs is ready to get back in business and welcome their members back safely.
“I think that once you get past the check-in at the front desk, it’ll start to feel more like [the Village Clubs] that they’re used to but it will definitely be different,” she said.
Editor’s Note: Caroline Yu is a student-journalist at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism serving in a paid internship role at Independent Newsmedia.