Smaller classes, online reservations new norm as gyms reopen

May 24, 2020 by Associated Press

Mike Weeks and his wife are fitness junkies. During quarantine, they tried home workouts — push-ups, planks, bike riding around town — but it wasn’t the same. The semi-retired oil and gas explorer longed for his old gym routine. “To say I missed it immensely is an understatement.”

So on May 8, the first day that Life Time gym reopened, the Oklahoma City resident was right there, though “slightly apprehensive.”

“I’m 66 years old,” he says, and “purportedly in the high-risk category.”

For Weeks, the benefits ultimately outweighed the risks. But as the country reopens, even the most dedicated gym rats are concerned about returning to a seemingly healthy habit during a pandemic — and doing it in a place known for sweat, germs and hard-to-clean equipment.

Big-box gyms and local fitness studios are reopening under a patchwork of protocols based on state and local guidance, but most are following these basics: spacing out cardio machines, touchless entry, smaller class sizes, increased cleaning and requiring users to clean all equipment before and after each use.

Mindbody, an online booking platform for fitness classes, salons and wellness appointments, reported all bookings down 70% compared to last year but says they have picked up as states lift restrictions. Florida bookings were up 99% week over week, Texas jumped 94% and Georgia is up 48%.

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