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Health, Science and Environment

Fitness centers prepare to resume business

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Under Michigan's most recent executive order, outdoor gatherings of 100 or fewer people that adhere to social distancing practices are permitted across the state, this includes fitness classes.

Beth Birgy is the owner of M-P Fit Club in Mount Pleasant. She said while her business and usual classes are still unable to meet regularly, she is now able to have outdoor classes. The first class takes place tomorrow.

“I’ve already done a formal written letter to a local park to get consent, I’ve got all my liability in order to make sure that we’re covered, and basically I put all the pieces in place," said Birgy.

She said they have started out small, with only around ten people, but she plans on opening that up a bit more soon. The classes still have to adhere to social distancing, and as a measure of precaution the isn't having members share equipment as they might in some classes previously for now. She said the equipment part can be a challenge, especially with their rowing machines, but things like resistance bands are a lot easier for each participant to have access to.

Birgy said she’s been preparing for this for a while, watching seminars and doing research on how to conduct an outdoor class safely.  Her business will transition back to in-person classes slowly. She said so far during the stay-at-home period her club had been doing online workouts over zoom. She said as in person classes become more feasible in the building these will decrease in frequency, though may still happen as she said some members enjoyed the flexibility of online.

While fitness classes have been able to continue in some form, fitness centers with open workout spaces have been stuck waiting, for many this time hasn't been wasted entirely.

Richard Ferrigan owns and operates Grayling Fitness Center, he said he’s trying to take all of the proper precautions to keep members safe. He explained a number of ways that he's planned out for doing this.

One of the first things he did was rearrange the space, he said he moved all machines at least 8 feet apart-- he didn't want to take any chances with just 6 feet as is the minimum recommended. He said the 8 foot distance was how he planned out the whole gym. “We’ve made what we call pod areas so that you have your own basically 8x8 area to work out in with your own specific weights that your gonna use and your own bench,” said Ferrigan.

To watch out for his members at higher risk for infection he said he also created specific secluded areas. Also to increase member distance he said he's planning to use scheduling to reduce crowds, having members sign up for times. At entry he plans to have members take their temperature, take a test to make sure their breathing is stable, and also take a short questionair to check up on their recent health.

Ferrigan said as people return to getting fit at his gym he'll be doing his best to keep them healthy too. Grayling Fitness Center is in region 6 from the Michigan Economic Recovery Council's map, so it may be among the first gyms to open back up in the state.