GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — After six months of questions and closures one of the longest shuttered businesses, gyms reopen Wednesday morning. 

When they opened the doors at 5 a.m. Wednesday at the Planet Fitness along 28th Street at The Shops at Centerpoint, a steady stream of customers walked inside. 

General Manager Grace Potter says Planet Fitness, like all gyms, had to come up with ways to keep their customers safe, implementing new rules and procedures across the board. Overall, she says members are excited to get back to working out. 

“It looks like people are super excited to come in,” Potter said. “I think it’ll be interesting to see how it goes long term. Obviously, the mask rules aren’t going anywhere, and we will abide by those policies for a while. We just want to stay consistent with everything.”

Other gyms, like the YMCA needed another day to get their plan in place. The downtown Grand Rapids YMCA, one of the biggest facilities in West Michigan opting to open Thursday. All other locations in the area will wait until Monday of next week to open.

YMCA leaders say they’re starting with the downtown location first because it’s the biggest and most central. They think there it will be the easiest to implement and test safety protocols.

Whether opening Wednesday, Thursday or someday next week — the rules at your gym will be mostly the same. You’ll have to wear a mask, even during your workout. The gym will only be allowed to operate at 25 percent capacity at any time.

You will also notice more spaced out equipment, and gyms will be keeping track of everyone who comes in and out.

At Planet Fitness, Potter says they’ve simplified this process with their “Clean Thumb Club”. It’s touchless check in, allowing members to avoid unnecessary contact, checking into the gym with their digital keycard on the Planet Fitness app. 

“We wanted to eliminate touchpoints,” Potter said. “We used to always physically check people in and scan them in. So now we have that equipment on our countertop for them to do themselves. For that to work we do ask that our members download the Planet Fitness app.”

Each scan in goes into the apps “crowd meter” letting other members know just how busy a gym is at any given time.

On top of those changes, Planet Fitness has placed many more cleaning stations and hand sanitizing ports throughout the gym along with floor markings for safe social distancing. 

“We are asking that everyone is practicing safe physical distancing,” Potter said. “We have tape on the floor. We have stickers on the floor. All of our signs ask people to abide by the rules.”

Cardio machines are closed out every other machine. They’ll rotate daily and in so doing allow members space to distance themselves from others. Each night the ones that were in use that day will be cleaned and switched for the next day with others that weren’t. 

Some of their fitness room capacities have also been slashed, some allow six people, others as low as three. But as always, much of the cleanliness of the gym depends on members who use the equipment, encouraging them to wipe them down after each use.

“We have high expectations here, obviously,” Potter said. “We are known for providing clean environments for our members to come in here daily and consistently to be able to work out in. So, our bar is already pretty high and we kind of just raised it a little higher with everything that’s going on.”

In order to sanitize and spray down everything with their new electric backpack sprayers, Planet Fitness has had to change their normal business hours:

  • Monday through Thursday 5 a.m. to 10 p.m.
  • Friday 5 a.m. to 9p.m.
  • Saturday and Sunday 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Many things have changed to keep up with operating amid a pandemic, but Potter thinks members at her gym will abide by the rules as close as they can in order to keep coming back safely. 

“Because they are going to be safe here, our members,” Potter said. “We are keeping up on everything. We’re working really hard so that members can feel comfortable when they do stop in to work out and throughout the entire time they’re with us.”