After a couple months of at-home exercises and virtual trainers, Monday marked the first day gym members could return to a more normal fitness routine.

“I’ve never seen so many smiling faces; people just dying to get back after it,” CrossFit Aggieland co-owner Seth McKinney said.

The gyms that opened must operate at 25% capacity of their total occupancy, and facilities’ locker rooms and showers must remain closed, in accordance with Gov. Greg Abbott’s order. Restrooms may be open.

Many members will encounter stricter sanitation protocols and procedures, such as time between classes to disinfect the area and equipment, and machines moved to allow for social distancing.

At CrossFit Aggieland, each member has his or her own space where they work out, and everything they bring with them and their equipment stays in that space, McKinney said. Each client also has access to spray bottles of cleaning solutions to disinfect their area at the end of their class.

With classes limited to 12 people, he said, the gym is having to implement some new protocols, such as requiring clients to pre-enroll in classes online.

“We’re doing the best we can to operate in this environment,” McKinney said. “So far, the feedback’s been pretty positive. It’s definitely positive from them emotionally; they’re very happy to be back.”

One of the best things about being open, he said, is giving people a place to work out in a group setting again.

“I know that this quarantine was tough emotionally on people,” he said, noting the physical and mental benefits of working out. “… I think getting back to some level of normalcy is going to be great for everybody.”

At BCS Fitness, personal training sessions resumed Monday, with small group classes starting May 26, owner and performance coach Brad Tillery said. The sessions will take place in training pods where all the necessary equipment has already been sanitized after its last use and set up for the client.

“No one shares it. It’s not swapped out, so that way a client can start a workout, have a great workout — a really efficient workout — and our clean team can come behind them and we create about a 30-minute block of time between sessions where our clean team comes in and disinfects everything real thoroughly,” Tillery said.

He noted the gym also has dehumidifiers and air purifiers to make sure the air is as clean as it can be.

“We realize that not just us, but the entire fitness industry, we have to evolve and we have to change with the times,” he said. “Putting people next to each other and sharing equipment, at least for the foreseeable future, is not really a great option that [is] going to make people feel comfortable. So, we had to kind of reimagine the process and figure out how can we get people back in these healthy routines, but keep them as safe as possible.”

To ensure that safety, he said, a staff member is also taking people’s temperatures before they enter the building. If the reading is lower than 100 degrees Fahrenheit, then they move to a handwashing station.

Gold’s Gym in College Station has implemented an afternoon intermission to allow for a more thorough cleaning in addition to a deep cleaning overnight that includes an electrostatic spray, Gold’s Gym CEO Adam Zeitsiff said. Throughout the day, staff members are cleaning, as are gym members.

Every other cardio machine is not in use to provide social distancing, and strength equipment, machines and benches are spaced out on the floor to allow space between clients.

All employees are wearing masks and gloves, and clients are requested to do the same, but it is not required.

“Some wear them, and some don’t. As long as they’re practicing their distancing and cleaning up after themselves, we’re there to support them,” Zeitsiff said.

All three gyms offered online and on-demand workouts during the two-month closure.

“I think the fitness industry is an essential part of people’s lives,” McKinney said. “I hope they look at this and not just realize that it’s good for the inside and not just the outside, but that it’s an essential part of life.”

Tillery said he hopes all gyms abide by the protocols and do their part in keeping people safe, echoing the mental and physical benefits of exercise.

OrangeTheory in College Station is expected to open its doors Friday with limited class sizes and offerings to allow for social distancing and cleaning between classes.

Planet Fitness in Bryan announced it will reopen the week of June 1.

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