Ready to Lose Your “Covid 19”?

A Look at Measures Gyms and Fitness Studios are Taking to Reopen After Lockdown

Photo: Nina Belova|iStock

Let’s face it, the coronavirus disease pandemic has ruined our summer bodies. You may as easily insert “plans,” “way of life” and in some cases “livelihoods,” but the toll it’s taking on our waistlines hits at our core uniquely. Of course, I’m making light of our shared dilemma. There are far graver things to be concerned about, given the number of lives lost and the millions furloughed due to the global pandemic. But even in this predicament, it’s the one area in which we actually have some amount of control.

Admittedly, I’ve allowed myself too many helpings of ice cream and consumed an obscene amount of carbs and red wine the past five months. In March when the New York City gyms closed, I thought it too cold to exercise outdoors, not to mention where would I go? It was yet unknown if the virus was aerosolized. Masks weren’t being recommended or made mandatory. Sheltered in my apartment and restricted to a 5-block radius —as far as the grocery store—I was incapable of closing my Apple Watch’s move and exercise rings to burn calories. My only solution was jumping jacks, but my poor neighbors! I must concede; I did this to myself.

But I know I’m not alone.

A recent survey by OnePoll and Nutrisystem estimates that 76 percent of Americans polled gained up to 16 pounds during lockdown. Between the stress of the pandemic and having had to shelter in place, many of us have had difficulty staying motivated, maintaining a consistent eating schedule, and eating healthily. For those who use exercise as a way of maintaining their health, wellness and figure, the ability to keep up an exercise routine at home has not come easy. Not being able to go to the gym has really not helped.

Surely, you can find a buffet of in-home workout content to consume online. In fact, many gyms and fitness-types on social media streamed routines for free or at a cost that you could follow. But depending on the type of workout you typically do: cardio, strength, or flexibility, it’s challenging or ineffectual without the right equipment. Not to mention, the stress of the pandemic is its own motivation killer. There’s something about being at the gym that keeps you more personally accountable than if left to your own devices at home. It’s like the simple act of going somewhere to do something inspires you to achieve some end.

Although in New York, where I live, we’re in Phase 4 of the Center for Disease Control’s reopening guidelines, which means that, in addition to getting a haircut and eating outdoors, malls and schools can reopen, and even professional sporting events have resumed without spectators. Sadly, gyms are still closed. This might be different for you, depending on the level of infection in your city and the state in which you live. Gyms and venues that can accommodate large groups of people are rife to “super spread” the virus, so special precautions and practices have to be put in place to make sure they are both sanitized and safe.

Lucky for you, I’ve looked at three popular fitness gyms or studios—Equinox, SoulCycle and Yoga Works—and the measures they are taking to secure your safety once they are allowed to reopen in your city. If you’re a member of a different gym or studio, the below is an indication of what you may expect:

Health Declaration: Visitors at Equinox and SoulCycle must sign paperwork that they are healthy and have not been in recent contact with anyone who has Covid-19. This can be done via their apps. Attempts to find out what happens if you are found in violation of these declarations were not answered.

Temperature checks: Staff and gym guests at all three must submit to having their temperature checked upon entering. Those with temperatures at or above 100.4°F will not be allowed in SoulCycle. Equinox will not allow entry for temperatures above 100°F and members will not be able to access the gym for at least 3 days thereafter.

Reduced occupancy: Members of Equinox and Yoga Works will be required to book their visits ahead of time via their apps. Depending on the location, group fitness classes at Equinox have been reduced and can be booked up to 7 days before. SoulCycle has no booking requirement, but recommends riders reserve bikes at least 30 minutes before class. For advance bookings, strict cancellation policies are enforced, including a fee for no-shows.

Contactless check-in services: All three venues allow for hands-free check-ins, using their respective apps. Equinox will have a Plexiglass barrier for guests who need to be scanned through.

Face coverings and gloves requirements: Mask requirement varies by location at Equinox facilities. SoulCycle requires masks in common areas, but guests can remove them during workout. Yoga Works makes wearing a mask optional in its locations but for Los Angeles.

Social distancing: Members are required to social distance to the extent possible in all venues. Equinox and SoulCycle will have markers on the floor for high traffic areas. SoulCycle will space out its riders and Yoga Works has designated mat markers.

Enhanced disinfecting and sanitizing procedures: All venues will be instituting enhanced procedures to wipe down and clean high traffic areas, equipment and surfaces, using disinfectants and virucides on the EPA approved list of cleaners that can kill the SARS-Co2 virus. To accommodate for this, fitness classes at Equinox will allocate a minimum of 45 minutes in between classes. Yoga Works has a 30-minute window for sanitization and turnover. SoulCycle will disinfect lockers after every class. Sanitation stations will provide hand sanitizers with a high alcohol grade and medical grade wipes. SoulCycle is working on a contactless solution and is the only venue to mention changing their air filtration system with PECO air-purification technology, highly favored by the Federal Drug Administration to destroy the coronavirus.

Eliminating amenities: Equinox has reduced most of its premium services like towel service, coat check, pool, squash and basketball courts. SoulCycle has removed high-touch amenities like razors, q-tips and phone charging. Yoga Works requires members to bring their own props, including mats and blocks. Showers, steam rooms and saunas are all closed in all venues.

With the above, the gym experience, as we know it, will change dramatically. At the very least you have what you need to know about how they are cutting down the potential risk of contagion, as you work at trimming down the fat.

To find out when or if your gym or studio is open, click on the following links: Equinox, SoulCycle, Yoga Works. Equinox Group is the parent company of Equinox and SoulCycle.

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