'Things will look different' when Cincinnati gyms reopen for workouts

Posted at 5:30 PM, May 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-18 20:45:00-04

CINCINNATI — Getting the most out of a workout requires multiple adjustments, from the equipment to the body itself.

Reopening a gym during a pandemic requires a list of adaptations as well.

“Things will look different,” said Mary Frank, part of the executive leadership team at the Cincinnati Sports Club.

The Madisonville gym will reopen on June 1, a few days after Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine's May 26 reopening date for gyms across the state. It — and all facilities like it — must meet a new set of guidelines in order to welcome members again.

“From the moment you approach campus, from being welcomed in, having your temperature taken, being asked to wear a mask when entering the facility when you’re in common areas but not while you’re working out,” Frank said.

The club has also installed plexiglass at the check-in counters and at the salon, and any members who want to use the pool will have to make an appointment. They’ll be spacing out group classes and equipment to comply with social distancing guidelines. Wipe stations are distributed throughout the gym.

The Cincinnati Sports Club is screening employees for COVID-19 symptoms as a protective measure as well.

“I was greeting them with a mask as well as with a face shield, having a glove on my hand taking their temperature,” Frank said. “They’re filling out a daily symptom report, and their direct manager is making a physical eye check on them as well.”

It’s no accident that Cincinnati Sports Club is so well prepared for the coronavirus. Over 10 years ago, the facility created a global pandemic preparedness plan. When COVID-19 hit, the club started to put social distancing guidelines in place first thing.

“We were actually doing (social distancing) before the mandated closure as part of our pandemic preparedness plan that we had created in 2009,” Frank said.

She said the protocols they had in place were hospital-grade, and she’s determined to show that Cincinnati Sports Club is the best of the best at navigating the ongoing pandemic.

“We are committed to be better than the essential businesses that were permitted to remain open during these mandated stay-at-home orders," Frank said.

RTS Barbell in Walnut Hills, a smaller gym, also has a plan to keep its 75 members safe and healthy.

Owner Kevin Kist said the smaller customer base will make it easier for his staff to keep tabs on what's happening.

“Any given day, it’s very easy to control who’s coming and who’s going,” Kist said.

Inside the gym, he said, the key will be people working out with distance between them.

“It’s just kind of going to be each person’s individual responsibility to know, 'This is where I need to be,' and if someone’s in their own bubble not to go there,” Kist said.

There will be strict cleaning processes inside the gym as well. Kist said the cleaning standard was already high pre-pandemic, but now his staff will be reviewing its standards and exceeding them.

Even with the restrictions, gym reopening is like a lifeline opening back up to members and employees too.

“We’re a family here," Kist said. "We love to strength-train. We love to put our health first and make it a priority. Being kind of stuck at home, not getting to train, having to make do at home, it’s been a struggle."

The Cincinnati Sports Club shares that philosophy.

“It is most important for us to help people get back to being active because exercise is medicine,” Frank said.