LANSING, Mich. — After months of anticipation, gyms owners and fitness buffs are able to regain a sense of normalcy during the coronavirus pandemic.
Last week, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order reopening sports and exercise facilities, including gyms, pools and skating rinks.
The facilities may reopen at 25% capacity starting Wednesday, Sept. 9.
Under Executive Order 2020-175, gyms must require masks at all times, including times of exercise, configure workout stations or implement protocols to enable six feet of distance between individuals, reduce class sizes to enable at least six feet of separation between individuals and provide equipment-cleaning products throughout the gym. Gym goers will also have to check in and out of facilities to help with contract tracing and capacity counts.
616 Fit, in Grand Rapids, reopened for its first indoor class early Wednesday morning.
"It's really exciting to get the chance to get people back inside, bring back people who have been at home or not working out and they're chomping at the bit to get back into the gym," said co-owner and coach Tom Sullivan.
Classes will be capped at 12 to 16 people and athletes will have an allotted space to carry out their workout.
The YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids opted to reopen its first facility on Thursday as it continues to call back staff members. Other YMCA GR facilities will reopen on Monday. The organization says it's been working on reopening plans for several months.
"Once the order came in place, we really started focusing on making sure we were calling back our staff members," said Kevin Myers, district executive director for the YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids. "We've got our reopening plans in place, our staff are trained and ready to go. Our cleaning supplies are in order. We're ready to open for our members in the community."
The David D. Hunting facility will be the first of the YMCA facilities to reopen and it will do so with a phased in approach. The pool, kid zones and locker rooms will remain closed for at least several more weeks, and workout classes will continue to happen outdoors for as long as weather permits.
Members will need to bring their own towels, water bottles and yoga mats. Every patron will receive a brief health screen and temperature check upon arrival.
The pandemic closure put a strain on most facilities. The YMCA had to make permanent layoffs and lost about 6,000 members at the downtown Grand Rapids facility alone. Many other members put their memberships on hold.
"We are hoping we do get a lot of those members coming back, but we know it still will be a challenge. They may want to see how things are going before they do come in," Myers said.
Under the executive order, David D. Hunting can hold 500 people at a time, which Myers said should be doable. Under normal circumstances, the facility saw anywhere from 1-2,000 visitors throughout the day.
Most gyms, fitness centers, and pools have been closed since the early onset of the pandemic back in March, upper Michigan facilities were able to reopen in mid-June. Bowling alleys, which have also been closed, are reopening Wednesday as well -- but only to league bowlers for the time being. Gov. Whitmer has not yet announced when movie theaters will be able to reopen.
►Make it easy to keep up to date with more stories like this. Download the 13 ON YOUR SIDE app now.