Socially distant fitness: Pflugerville gyms reopen with new rules – Ne…

Working out at home was just not the same for CrossFit 3 Strands members Kristi Kees and Jessica Merritt.

“It’s harder to work out by yourself,” said Merritt. “It’s better to have someone coach you and push you. I just feel like I work harder when I workout with a group.”

“That’s part of the benefit of having a coach,” added Kees, “to make sure you’re doing activities safely to prevent injury.”

The two were among the members who returned for in-person classes at the Pflugerville gym on W. Pflugerville Parkway during the first week gyms in Texas were allowed to open their doors again under Gov. Greg Abbott’s reopening plan during the coronavirus pandemic.

After two months of using Zoom to conduct classes every day, owner Blyth DelBene said she couldn’t wait to get back. Starting May 18, she held workouts at her gym while wearing a mask and gloves, though members were not required to.

“Even though I shut my doors, I did not shut myself out to my community of my athletes,” she said. “I kept them going the whole time and kept them engaged.”

DelBene said she has put safety protocols in place, including requiring members to use hand sanitizer and to wipe down their stations before and after each class.

“Before we used to share bars, but now everyone has their own equipment,” DelBene said. “Everyone has paper towels, disinfectant and hand sanitizer at each station.”

Other gyms in Pflugerville, including Planet Fitness and Gold’s Gym, also reopened with new sanitation, capacity, safety and physical distancing protocols in place.

CrossFit Texas reopened with procedures requiring members to wear face masks outside of lifting areas and washing hands as they enter workout platforms. Staff members also are performing wellness screenings and temperature checks on members.

“We deep clean all of our surfaces, ’Zamboni’ the entire gym floor with disinfectant, spray and wiped down all equipment and countertops,” owners said on their website. The gym is also limiting classes to 12 people to allow for social distancing, and spots must be reserved ahead of time.

Gyms and workout facilities can operate at 25% occupancy and six-foot social distancing is recommended. Showers and locker rooms will remain closed; whether masks are required is up to individual facilities.

Under the rule, DelBene could host classes with up to eight people but she is restricting classes to six people at most. She also added more classes to accommodate students. Members work out in stations that are 10 square feet.

DelBene said she was already accustomed to frequently cleaning her gym, so following new protocols has not been difficult for her.

“We just had to step it up a little bit more,” she said.

DelBene led a group of teens in a group workout Thursday afternoon. She said students have enjoyed being around others again.

Parent Sherry Ashford said she knew DelBene was doing everything possible to keep members safe, so she had no concerns bringing her son Grant back to class.

“It helps them have some sort of normalcy and have some socialization even though it’s socially distant,” she said. “He likes doing some stuff at home but he just prefers to come to class.”

DelBene said she plans to continue hosting classes online, although it has been challenging to balance those with in-person classes.

“I can forsee another shutdown,” she said. “Not that I want one, but I am being realistic and realize it could happen and I want to be able to continue my services.”


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