It’s the announcement the fitness community in Michigan has waited for since March.
On Thursday, Governor Whitmer says gyms can finally reopen next week.
The big day is Wednesday, September 9, and gym owners have waited months to hear the good news.
“It’s been hard, to be honest,” said Tom Sullivan, who owns 616 Fit with his wife. “It’s been hard to get our hopes up, because every time that she’s gone to talk about it, in the past, talking about April and May, when she was gonna address gyms we never got good news.”
With major shutdowns across the state, gyms have been allowed to set up outdoor classes for a couple of months.
“It’s been great. It’s brought our community back together,” Sullivan said.
Now they can finally start to move the training indoors.
“It’s exciting,” Sullivan said during an outdoor workout. "We’re ready. We’re gonna have people back inside but we’ve got a lot of work to do."
The Sullivans have coached people virtually, but it’s not the same as in person. They’re social distancing out in the parking lot, cleaning gear non-stop after every workout, and making sure everyone feels safe, even if customers are not 100 percent sure they want to return.
Now the Sullivans just need to finalize a few things before Wednesday.
“We’ll mark off with tape or X’s on the floor,” said Sullivan. “We’ll make lanes for entry and exit. We’ll put together a video for our members of ‘here’s how you come into the building here’s how you set up in the lane, here’s how everything will flow’. We have to do all that and then just executing.”
“Whoo! Big sigh of relief,” said Kendra Bylsma, founder of Allegro Coaching. "I feel like I have a huge weight off my shoulder,"
She’s a little anxious about the announcement, saying there’s still a long road ahead.
Patrons may not come back for fear of COVID, so Bylsma plans to assess things with members, find out how many feel comfortable working out inside, and also continue offering virtual options as well as outdoor classes.
“I’m not in a huge hurry to open our doors,” she said. “We are fully ready. We’ve been ready since the end of June in terms of sanitation. We’ve spaced out our facility correctly, but we just want to take a lot of precautions and make sure we give our members as many options as possible.”
Some of those precautions are required under the new executive order:
- Gyms have to deny entry to people who do not as least give their name and phone number for contact tracing.
- Face coverings have to be worn at all times unless you’re swimming.
- Capacity is limited to 25%.
- Class sized have to be reduced.
- Workouts stations need to be at least six feet apart.
- Gyms have to provide equipment cleaning products.
- Hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, along with soap and water have to be readily available.
- They also need to increase air circulation throughout the building using fans and opening doors and windows when possible.
These are precautions several gyms like 616 Fit are already taking.
Sullivan just wishes Governor Whitmer had more communication with the fitness community before the announcement. “We’ve been flying by the seat of our pants, hoping for the best, dealing with what we have,” he said. “Our members have no idea, so they might cancel, not knowing they’re gonna get to go back in September. It just puts us in a really tight spot."
The safety requirements also apply to bowling alleys, roller rinks, ice rinks, and similar facilities.
Pools are also allowed to open on September 9, but that does not apply to waterparks.