Local fitness owners, officials talk reopening safety protocols | News

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LATHAM, N.Y. — Fitness center owners from the Capital Region demonstrated new safety measures put into place in order to safely reopen indoor fitness activities. They were joined by local elected officials to support their reopening plan. The fitness industry has submitted a safety plan to the State and will […]

LATHAM, N.Y. — Fitness center owners from the Capital Region demonstrated new safety measures put into place in order to safely reopen indoor fitness activities.

They were joined by local elected officials to support their reopening plan. The fitness industry has submitted a safety plan to the State and will always have the health and safety of the public as the top priority. The industry’s mission, even before COVID-19, has always been to enhance the physical and mental health of our clients and remain committed to that mission. 

“Fitness centers across New York State have endured months of uncertainty and lost revenue, with many smaller-scale establishments having to close their doors as a result,” Assemblymember Patricia Fahy (D-Albany) stated. “I’ve recently signed a letter alongside Assembly colleagues that calls for a safe and responsible opening of these establishments, following submission of a thorough reopening plan like the one submitted by the NYS Fitness Alliance, with necessary precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“With local jobs on the line and federal business loans drying up as a result of the current Congressional impasse, these businesses need a lifeline and to be allowed to reopen safely and responsibly.” 

“Today, as COVID-19 continues to impact our lives, there remains a continued need to return to normalcy in a smart and safe way,” Assemblymember John McDonald III (D-Cohoes) added. “I cannot think of a better way to get back to normal than to open our gyms in a safe manner, as detailed in the plans laid out by the NYS Fitness Alliance.

“Let’s face it, New Yorkers have not been able to be as active as they used to be. We need to focus on helping people resume their daily exercise safely as it will lead to better physical, mental and emotional health.” 

“Being diabetic, fitness is essential to keeping my blood sugar under control,” Assemblymember Phil Steck (D-Colonie) remarked. “I really miss Metabolic Meltdown! It’s highly motivational! We have introduced legislation to basically codify what the Fitness Alliance is requesting: specific criteria under which clubs can reopen with verification by County Health Departments that the procedures to be employed are adequate.

“The Legislature gave the Governor extraordinary powers during COVID. These powers need to be exercised not only to close things down but to provide for the safest possible reopening.” 

The reopening plan submitted by the NYS Fitness Alliance includes extensive safety protocols for employees, members, and contractors. Fitness center employees will be required to wear face coverings, clean surfaces regularly, and be trained on all safety protocols.

The plan meets or exceeds Centers for Disease Control (CDC), New York State Department of Health (DOH), and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines, and includes protocols for assisting the State in contact tracing efforts. 

“In our facilities we have every other treadmill and floor station out of service and every other rower removed to properly follow six feet social distancing for members,” Paola Horvath, Franchise Owner, Orangetheory Fitness explained. “We also have rigorous cleaning protocols that will be followed and will also include a fast-acting surface treatment fogging system that kills bacteria and virus on contact.

“Our classes are designed by our corporate team to allow for proper social distancing and to allow for additional time in-between classes to properly clean and sanitize before the next class begins. Every member will need to make a reservation to attend class. Our ability to provide New York with contact tracing data is above any other industry.” 

For many fitness center members, the physical and mental progress achieved through exercise programs is an essential element of their overall health and wellness. Many members have underlying health conditions that could result in significant complications if COVID-19 is contracted, such as hypertension and diabetes, that are kept in check through exercise.

These members consider their fitness centers essential to their health. Fitness professionals are a first line of defense in preventative health for many New Yorkers who may struggle with obesity, heart conditions, and diabetes. 

“I can honestly say that when the pandemic hit and we went into quarantine a switch flipped for me,” Nick Latal, a local fitness club member said. “The drive I had for two straight years was suddenly nowhere to be found. Not being involved in group classes deeply affected my physical and mental well-being.

“It quickly became obvious that I would not be able to continue the level of fitness I was used too, despite having resources at my disposal.” 

Many industries that require in-person contact have reopened with safety measures in place and there has been no increase in coronavirus cases. Gyms are no different than office buildings, malls, grocery stores, and barber shops and salons – if health and safety measures are taken the spread of the virus can be effectively contained. 

“NYSFA continues to plan for a safe reopening that protects our employees, customers and the general public,” Bill Lia, Executive Director of New York State Fitness Alliance remarked. “We are ready to reopen upon state approval, to continue to promote a healthy lifestyle only gyms and fitness centers can provide.

“The Governor has done a tremendous job leading New York through this crisis by following the facts and our plan continues that approach while allowing New Yorkers to improve their physical health.”

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