By Talon Bell
The COVID-19 outbreak has put a huge weight on the shoulders of society and the day-to-day operations. Many businesses were forced to shut down for months, and this included Gyms and fitness centers across Texas. Workers were forced to go through different guidelines, and it changed the atmosphere of the gyms. The strict restrictions that were put in place caused many amenities to be shut down until further notice. While the restrictions are slowly getting lifted, the vast limitations are still burdening gym attendees and employees.
The quick and drastic changes put a lot of pressure on the employees of Texas gyms, from rearranging all of the equipment to meet social distancing guidelines, to the constant sanitization of the entire facility, their responsibilities skyrocketed. Das Rec, rec center in New Braunfels, Texas, takes two 30-minute breaks a day to sanitize their entire facility to help prevent an outbreak from occurring. They also have employees throughout the day wiping down and cleaning equipment and machines. Fitness Supervisor at the University of Houston Rec Center Logan Jackson says they are strict about wearing your facemask while walking around and that has caused tensions between employees and patrons.
Those who were most heavily affected by the drastic changes were the gym attendees. When gyms were first able to open up again in May, the capacity allowed was only 25% and some gyms, such as the University of Houston Rec, forced you to schedule your workout times and what equipment you were going to use. This added step drove a lot of people away from going to the gym altogether. Anthony Parra, avid gym attendee, says he was scared to go at first because gyms are already a hub for viruses to spread and many gyms he would use no one would be wearing a mask. The reason the rules were put into place was to keep people safe and keep the businesses open in a secure and effective way, but the way the gyms take on this pandemic vary gym to gym.
Mandated guidelines put a lot of pressure on Texas gyms to adapt in very little time, but the workout centers were up to the challenge and have found many ways to improvise. Planet Fitness in College Station restricts every other treadmill to keep the 6-foot distance between users, and they moved some machines to new areas to create more space. On the other hand, things have been forced to shut down in gyms due to COVID-19, such as group activities and even some machines they couldn’t keep safe. Locker rooms have been closed off until further notice and most activity spaces have capacity limitations.
Overall, the impact COVID-19 has made on Texas gyms and the various workout facilities has been extreme. There has been a complete overhaul for employees and their responsibilities and patrons are having to adapt to this new style of working out. Various amenities that once existed at gyms are closing down and it has changed the feeling of gyms altogether, but this change has prompted quick and innovative ideas that may help gyms grow and learn for the future.