Dallas-Fort Worth gyms start to reopen with new rules, restrictions amid coronavirus

May 17,2020

See full Fort Worth Star-Telegram article by Jack Howland here

Robin Thomas walked by all of the cardio and weights equipment sitting out in his empty gym on Saturday, putting yellow tape onto roughly every other machine so members who come back will have to keep at least 6 feet of distance.

His facility, Inursha Fitness, which he opened with his wife in Fort Worth 18 years ago, has always been a small local operation compared to the larger national fitness clubs. But, when it opens its doors on Monday for the first time in about two months, it’s going to become a lot smaller.

After Gov. Greg Abbott announced Texas gyms could reopen on May 18 at 25 percent capacity, Thomas said he and his wife immediately began making their plans to reopen. Since their gym mainly serves clients who schedule one-on-one appointments with personal trainers, they plan to carefully manage how many people are in the gym at a time. Trainers have been instructed to keep social distance during sessions.

Per Abbott’s requirements, everyone inside the facility also has to wear gloves, machines must be sanitized after each use, and locker rooms and showers must be closed.

Inursha is taking additional steps to make going to the gym a safer activity, as are other gyms throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth region reopening on Monday who want to reassure members who could be wary of coming back.

That includes having a cleaning company thoroughly disinfect everything in the gym three days a week, Thomas said. He and his wife also purchased a device that automatically sprays a disinfectant into the air at regular intervals, which helps to keep machines clean.

“It’s going to be difficult, honestly, to keep everyone happy, because there’s going to be the segment of people who are like, ‘Let’s get back to total norm,’ and then there’s going to be a segment of people who are ... very vigilant about everything going on,” Thomas told the Star-Telegram on Saturday. “So you’re going to have those two segments of people you’re going to have to deal with.”

Inursha is one of several gyms, including local businesses and national chains, reopening in the Dallas-Fort Worth region on what will be their first day of business since local leaders and Abbott began enforcing stay-at-home orders in late March.

Officials in Tarrant County say community spread of the virus continues to be substantial, with more cases and deaths have been reported daily. But Abbott has indicated the state is moving ahead with a gradual reopening with mandatory social distancing and sanitary measures in-place.

As North Texas gyms reopen, most aren’t resuming billing until June and making cancellations easy as a courtesy to members.

Some gyms are reopening on Monday under the new protocols. Others are taking more time to prepare.

The YMCA of Metropolitan Fort Worth is doing a phased reopening of its branches, beginning with the Hood County YMCA on May 22, officials said in a news release. Other branches including the Amon G. Carter Jr. Downtown YMCA, Benbrook Community YMCA and Northpark YMCA are set to re-open on June 1.

Three YMCA staples — Eastside YMCA, YMCA Camp Carter and summer programs including Day Camp — don’t have re-opening dates at this time.

“As we prepare to reopen our doors, please be assured the safety of all our members, program participants, staff and volunteers is our number one priority,” President and CEO Tony Shuman said in the news release. “We are following guidelines from health experts and local officials to ensure that our facilities meet the highest standards for hygiene and safety.”

It “wasn’t an option” for Thomas and his wife to stay closed, he told the Star-Telegram on Saturday. It costs $25,000 a month to operate the gym, even when it’s closed, he said. And they have had no income at all over the past two months — no drive-by or pick-up services to offer.

The income from the gym, he said, “doesn’t only pay for the gym — it pays for our home life, it pays for our mortgage, it pays for everything.”

“It’s either you start back work or you lose your business. It’s down to that,” he said. “For us, if we lose our business, we lose our home.”

He said they’re going to do everything in their power to make the gym as “safe as humanly possible,” but it could be six months before the majority of their customers feel comfortable returning.

Gyms that are reopening on Monday

  • 24 Hour Fitness listed that five of its locations in North Texas are reopening on Monday with new policies like a workout reservation system and “touch-free club check-in,” according to its website.
  • Cowboys Fit, which has three locations throughout Dallas-Fort Worth, said on Facebook its clubs would reopen with new policies, including an online reservation system, touchless check-in and a wellness questionnaire when people arrive. The club is planning to operate on a schedule of 90-minute workout blocks and 30-minute cleaning breaks.
  • Fit for Life Results in Fort Worth is planning to reopen on Monday with new rules, including requiring members to wipe down their machines after each use, the gym said in a Facebook post. The post also notes that “gloves are suggested but not required.”
  • Fitness Connection is opening all of its more than 25 Texas locations on Monday and debuting new measures such as safety checks at the front door and contactless check-in, according to its website.
  • Fort Worth Strong said on Facebook it’s reopening on Monday with new policies, including taking temperatures upon entry, limiting group training to eight members or less and utilizing its outdoor space more regularly.
  • Jody’s Gym in Fort Worth said on Facebook it planned to reopen on Monday and staff had been doing extra disinfecting.
  • Life Time, which has five locations in the DFW region, is reopening with new safety protocols such as regular deep cleans of high-touch surfaces, hand-sanitizing stations and signs with instructions on social distancing, according to its website.
  • Studio Six, which has four locations in the Dallas area, is implementing new requirements on Monday, including that classes need to be booked online, members can only attend one class a day and masks need to be worn when entering and leaving the facility, the gym said on Facebook.
  • Texas Family Fitness is reopening its more than 10 locations in the Dallas-Fort Worth region on Monday with new measures like online sign-up for classes and daily “zone cleanings” between 2 and 3 p.m., according to its website.
  • Vigor Active in downtown Fort Worth will reopen on Monday with guidelines for members like bringing a towel or yoga mat with them if possible, the gym said on Facebook. Staff plan to clean and disinfect machines every two hours.