Gym owners ready to reopen under new protocols


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Gym owners are ecstatic after learning Thursday afternoon they could reopen after 5 1/2 months of closure.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer gave gyms the OK to reopen next Wednesday and said organized sports could resume.

“I’m grinning from ear to ear and today was a huge sigh of relief,” CEO of PF Michigan Group Bryan Rief said.

Rief said Planet Fitness locations across the state are preparing to welcome back its members to a sanitized and socially-distanced environment.

The governor’s order included a 25% capacity limit. Fitness centers must keep track of everyone that comes in and out of the building and reduce class sizes with social distancing in place. Masks will be required at all times inside of gyms, including during exercise.

According to Rief, Planet Fitness has put forth a detailed return plan that goes above and beyond the state’s requirements.

“Physical distancing and social distancing in the clubs, new cleaning and sanitizing protocols and contact tracing,” he said.

The YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids already has safety measures in place, including health screenings at the door, temperature checks and wiping down equipment more than usual.

Kevin Myers, the district executive director of YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids, said that in addition to being excited about reopening, it’s about something much more than working out.

“It’s getting our family back,” Myers said. “The YMCA has always been a family with our members and our staff coming together and all of our volunteers that support us and make sure that we’re safe and coming together. And we’re a social organization but we’re going to be a little bit more of a distant social organization as well too making sure that we’re safe and in place.” 

Owners of locally owned studios, like Shelby Reno with CKO Kickboxing in Grand Rapids, are also preparing to resume indoor classes and training.

Reno admits to briefly breaking the rules this summer, where they offered indoor, socially-distanced classes before moving all workouts outdoors. Though the outdoor classes have increased their visibility, Reno said it hasn’t increased their profitability.

It’s a financial hit she finds especially frustrating after paying to sanitize her indoor workout facility in June.

“I had spent almost $2,000 completely disinfecting every pipe that you see exposed, every bag, every surface with a team of professionals,” Reno said. “It was a huge investment for me (and) a few hours later we were not allowed to open.”

Reno hopes the setbacks are behind them, while also expressing concerns about making up for all the lost time and business resulting from the shutdown.

Since the shutdown began, Reno said they’ve lost nearly 70% of their members.

“We’ve lost close to $300,000 with both studios,” Reno said about her two West Michigan locations. “I’ll never get that back.”

Beginning next week, CKO Kickboxing will offer a hybrid of classes, incorporating indoor and outdoor training.

Also on Thursday, Whitmer extended the state of emergency for the virus through Oct. 1. It had been scheduled to expire late Friday.

—News 8’s Dana Whyte contributed to this report.



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