The Impact of COVID-19 on Texas Gyms

By Talon Bell

Das Rec is a fitness center located in New Braunfels, Texas, the fitness center takes scheduled breaks to disinfect the gym throughout the day.

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.

Plexiglass shields have been placed in-between patrons and the employees on at the front desk as well as enforcing members working out to wear their mask when talking to employees.
Throughout the fitness center they have signs posted to remind the members to follow the rules as well as to guide them in case they need any assistance.
Seeing this pandemic from the side of the gym employee and attendee.
As you walk in the door you are greeted with signage to help patrons in these confusing times with mask guidelines and scheduling so they can stay updated with the constant changes.

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.

Colin Kimbro has the job to disinfect the gym twice a day during scheduled cleaning time, he wipes down each piece of equipment and picks up trash around the gym to keep the area clean.
This fitness center has a lot to offer on a day-to-day basis, it is a meeting spot for many youths, elderly and all in-between. COVID-19 has slowed and stopped many of the perks of this location, but it hasn’t stopped many to still utilize the resourceful center.

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.

Hector Zamora, Das Rec employee, is able to benefit from the disinfecting time by getting a quick workout in, he still follows the rules by disinfecting after he is done and staying inside his zone.

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.

The open gym area has made some drastic changes to their activities, taking away a lot of the normal interactions by limiting members and introducing new games.
Locker-rooms at any gym are an easy place for viruses to spread, so Das Rec has chose the option to close the area to help prevent an outbreak.

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.

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