Fitness Centers React to Loosening of COVID Restrictions: ‘Gyms Are Really, Really Safe’
Like all gyms across Minnesota, Discover Strength in Plymouth has been off-limits to its clients since a statewide mandate went into effect on Nov. 21 to help limit the spread of COVID-19.
The executive order has been a source of frustration in the fitness community.
“Let’s see the data,” said Luke Carlson, CEO and founder of Discover Strength. “We just don’t have data where COVID is actually spreading in the club.”
It’s one of the arguments that the owners of gyms and fitness centers have been making for the past month. Now, Governor Walz is reversing course.
“I want to congratulate the folks in the fitness industry, you have figured out smart ways and thought about things, so we hear you on that,” Walz said in a video presentation to the state on Wednesday. “So we’re making some changes, get people back in there.”
Starting Dec. 19, gyms and fitness studios can reopen at 25 percent capacity with a 100-person limit. Club members have to wear masks at all times and maintain a distance of 12 feet from one another.
“We’re thrilled, because I think it represents a more surgical approach to a shutdown, to an opening, or to a reopening,” Carlson said. “The idea that we would wear masks or we would have 12-feet of social distancing seems to be a really logical approach, rather than being completely shut down, or completely wide open.”
In addition to the new regulations, staff members at Discover Strength still plan to do temperature checks and sanitize all equipment.
Ultimately, it’s part of an effort to help spread two key messages to policy makers and the general public.
“Gyms are really, really safe,” Carlson said. “And No. 2, exercise is the most important intervention that we have for mitigating cardiometabolic disease, which sets the stage for COVID-19 complications.”
In 2020, Minnesota gyms have endured two COVID-related shutdowns. With these new guidelines in place, there’s faith that 2021 won’t bring the same bad news.
“Amen, that’s the hope,” Carlson said.