Denver gyms preparing to reopen with new coronavirus safety measures

While their studio has been closed due to the coronavirus, the couple that owns the Tough Mudder Bootcamp in Denver has been busy gathering everything they think they need to keep the gym safe for members and staff when it is allowed to reopen. That includes a stockpile of 2,000 masks, 5 gallons of hand sanitizer and 7,200 wet wipes.

They purchased a touch-less thermometer for taking the temperatures of staff members to make sure they don’t work while running a fever. They also have invested in a steam vacuum machine that kills viruses and bacteria on equipment, floors and other surfaces with blasts heated to 400 degrees.

Gyms in Mesa County received a variance from the state and reopened last week, and some others have opened for one-on-one classes in accordance with Safer at Home guidelines. The rest are still waiting for the go-ahead from the state, but they’ve been planning for that day.

At CrossFit Broadway, which opened last week for one-on-one classes, owner Jason Kelly ordered a touch-less thermometer three weeks ago from Amazon and he’s still waiting for delivery. When it arrives, anyone with a temperature of 99 degrees or above will be sent home. Similar to Tough Mudder Bootcamp, he has a “professional-grade floor scrubber” that is approved to kill coronavirus.

“The floor is cleaned — a bleach spray is applied — after each session,” Kelly said. “The equipment is also treated with this bleach formula. Anything that has been touched has been wiped down before and after their session.”

Colorado Orangetheory Fitness studios also will be taking the temperatures of members, and they will not be allowed to work out if they have a fever. At Tough Mudder Bootcamp, only staff members will have their temperatures taken, owner Brian Anglin said.

Gyms operators typically are planning 30-minute windows between classes for disinfecting equipment and other surfaces, along with significantly smaller class sizes in adherence to public health guidelines.

Workers at Orangetheory Fitness locations have spent the last couple of weeks practicing the new procedures to clean and disinfect their studios before and after classes, according to regional manager Kelsey Donahue. Every piece of equipment and surface will be sprayed between classes with VitalOxide, an EPA-registered hospital disinfectant that has been shown to kill the coronavirus.

Orangetheory Fitness members will be assigned a station at check-in and allowed to enter the studio, where they’ll be asked to use hand sanitizer or wash their hands. Stations will be numbered so that as members rotate from one station to the next, they will be the only person touching the equipment. Tough Mudder Bootcamp will have similar rules.

Orangetheory classes normally involve up to 45 members, but Donahue anticipates that number will be limited to between 8 and 12, depending on guidance from the city and state. Classes will be shortened to 45 minutes to accommodate the cleaning operations.

Brian and Libby Anglin, his wife and co-owner of the Tough Mudder Bootcamp in Denver via a franchise agreement, have been poring over the directives that the City of Denver has given other businesses. They also have a 65-page operations manual that came from the national office of Tough Mudder Bootcamp, Libby Anglin said, recommending policies and procedures culled from guidelines and best practices in other states.

“Not only are we going to physically wipe down (equipment) with a hand wipe and a cleaner, we’re also going to steam it as well,” Brian Anglin said. “About 400 degrees of steam will be hitting that piece of equipment before the next person comes in and touches it.”

Lisa Locker, the owner of three Denver area CycleBar spinning locations, said her studios may operate at only a fifth of their normal capacity.

“My studios hold 49 bikes,” Locker said. “Including the instructor, it’s 50 bikes. We will have our bikes spaced out, minimum of six feet apart, and our class sizes will be reduced substantially. We may not have more than 10 people.”

Lockers at CycleBar will be spaced out as well. It will have touch-less check-in arrangements and lockers will be assigned at check-in to ensure separation. Clean, disinfected towels will be available, but they will not be placed on bikes before class as they were in the past, and members will be encouraged to bring their own.

When 24 Hour Fitness gyms open, they will have touch-free check-in via a phone app, and clubs will be open for 60-minute sessions followed by 30-minute closures for cleaning, according to a corporate media statement. Following news reports that the company was considering filing for bankruptcy, chief executive Tony Ueber wrote a letter to members, telling them he is “confident that we will reemerge stronger and better for the long term.” Planet Fitness has been otherwise vague in response to questions about new policies and procedures during the pandemic.

There seems to be a consensus in the industry that many gym members may be reluctant to return when gyms reopen, at least at first.

“We’re in no rush to get people back,” said CrossFit Broadway’s Kelly. “We want people to come back when they are ready. If they’re not comfortable, there’s no real point in expanding these rules. It’s really about consumer confidence at this time.”

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