Clean, Lean, Mean Machines: 5 Super COVID-Safe Gyms - OZY | A Modern Media Company

WHY YOU SHOULD CARE

Because staying in shape starts with staying safe.

By Joshua Eferighe

Outside of movie theaters and places of worship, one of the first spaces to open as states started rolling back stay-at-home orders back in mid-May were … gyms. While there has been a plethora of virtual classes offering fitness routines, yoga and guided exercises, there are some who are religiously committed to actually showing UP to the tabernacles of gains.

In fact, a study conducted by OnePoll on behalf of LIFEAID Beverage Co. surveyed 2000 Americans who exercise at least twice a week and found that 4 in 10 were unfazed by COVID-19 and said they will be returning to the gym at the same rate or more once it opens back up.

Yet, while desire is one thing, the hazards that await are another. Gyms operate in close quarters and in environments where you have heavy breathing, sweat and shared equipment — not the mix you want during a pandemic.

Especially in the face of one study that found bacteria and flu-like viruses on 25 percent of the surfaces they tested at various training facilities. And while you can try wearing a mask during light workouts, even the World Health Organization suggests it makes breathing harder and recommends against it.

The solution? Very possibly: fitness boutiques that avoid shared equipment and insist on appointment scheduling.

“It’s clear that no business can 100 percent protect its clients from COVID,” says Lise Kuecker, founder and CEO of Studio Grow, a boutique fitness consulting firm. “But the boutique fitness industry has exceeded the standards of nearly every other retail industry to ensure we’re doing our part to keep America healthy.”

Which is why there are gyms tightroping this fine line with a grace and balance that deserves mention, even if the jury is still out on whether this even makes any sense.

On the outside chance that it does? Here are some of the safest gyms in America and beyond to get your beach bod back on.

Hype The Gym: On July 30 the Ministry of Home Affairs in India put out a notice allowing gymnasiums and yoga studios to reopen in select states. After going months with no business, places like Hype Gym, which has over 40 chains in the Delhi-NCR region, have taken to using sanitizers and oximeters, spacing out their equipment, requiring thermal screening of both staff and members, and reducing their capacity yield to make sure they can both accommodate members and stay open. The most extensive measure? Before exercising, people have to get their oxygen saturation checked. If below 95 percent, individuals should not be allowed to exercise, the gym says.

Tuscan StrengthIn Arizona, Tuscan Strength is going above and beyond to give their members confidence in their ability to keep working out as safely as possible. State government officials have not lifted the mandate that would allow them to open indoors, so they decided to take their operation outside — into the desert. Investing thousands of dollars in tents, fans and evaporative cooling equipment, they’ve managed to hide from the sun, keep social distancing and maintain business.

Ovox GymTuscan Strength is not the only gym that’s moving outside. Ovox Gym in Morganville, New Jersey, has also decided to test the method, weights, cardio machines and all, to comply with COVID-19 safety measures. They’ve even swapped out rubber mats for artificial grass and managed to have enough space to properly separate stations for social distancing. Face masks and constant sanitization are also required, along with spray bottles of disinfectant for everyone who’s working out and checking their temperature before they head outside or touch the equipment.

Jean-Robert’s Gym: Gyms in the high mountains of Aspen, Colorado, mean business as well. Jean-Robert’s Gym has safety measures in place that include a reduction of the max capacity, semi-private and private personal training sessions, a new high-tech air filtration system and providing gloves for all members, which are mandatory while working out.

“Gyms are supposed to be building consumer confidence,” says Jean-Robert about the measures his gym has adopted to ensure customer safety and how he feels about gyms that aren’t taking similar steps. “It’s not responsible.” Because it is a pandemic, he feels gyms have the responsibility to make members feel excited about working out. “They should feel like, ‘wow, I want to go back to the gym. I want to work out. I want to be healthy.'”

Hudson Valley Ambition: After months with gyms closed in the Kingston, New York, area, Ryan Naccarato decided to figure out a way not only to keep himself active, but his community as well. Thus Hudson Valley Ambition was born. The fitness group has unique offerings for those looking for instruction and community: an outdoor “boot-camp”–style workout that changes locations throughout Kingston, and virtual experiences for those who are still reluctant to come out of the house and individual one-on-one sessions you can book with a trainer.

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