After being closed for going on three months, George Brown Sports Clubs – GB3 as they are better known – could be open by the end of the week.
The gym chain plans to open all five of its locations spanning Fresno and Clovis at 4 a.m. Friday.
And yes, they expect there will be people waiting when the door opens, says Sean Clinton, the gym’s general manager. He’s basing that assumption on the numbers of calls, emails and messages the gym gets from people wanting to know when they will be back in business.
“It’s every day,” Clinton says.
“It’s all day long, every day.”
The gym chain closed in mid-March, in conjunction with the city of Fresno’s “shelter in place” order, which was put in place to help limit the spread of the coronavirus. While that order was lifted last month, state guidelines put gyms and fitness clubs in the later phrase three of California’s reopening process – along with bars, family entertainment centers and campgrounds.
Last week, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced those businesses could open as soon as Friday, June 12, with modifications, though county approval is still required.
To meet guidelines, GB3 has changed its layouts to keep equipment spaced six feet apart and a new phone app that allows members touchless entry into the gym (no pulling out membership cards).
All cardio equipment, circuit and free weights will be available for use, though fitness classes, daycare and pool/sauna/steamroom areas will remain closed for the time being. Members will be required to wear masks when not working out, must furnish their own towels, water bottles and mats and clean their equipment before and after use, though staff will also be cleaning the equipment throughout the day, Clinton says.
Because of the size of the gym’s facilities – the Champlain Drive and Shepherd Avenue location is 50,000-square-feet, for instance – GB3 can accommodate (and hopes to see) almost all of its current members, even with stricter social distancing guidelines.
No appointments are needed before returning to the gym, but members are being asked to un-freeze their memberships online in advance.
Fit Republic, which operates five gyms in Fresno including Fort Washington Fitness, also is expecting to reopen on Friday, with similar safety precautions in place. The gyms will operate at half occupancy and staff will be screened and temperatures checked before their shifts. Members will be allowed to bring in water bottles and towels, but no gym bags.
Saunas, hot tubs and pools will remain closed.
Classes will be done in stations with individual equipment and with a limited number of students.
Extra cleaning stations have been added around the gyms and members will be asked to clean equipment before and after use. Of course, that was something already being done in the days before the city’s emergency order, says Fit Republic president Christopher Montoya.
“The members did a great job, cleaning the equipment before and after,” he says.
“The collective effort was amazing to watch.”
While some may think it’s too early to reopen as the pandemic continues, Montoya sees it as a responsibility for the industry to be open. It’s a benefit to people’s physical and mental health and “healthy people can fight this better,” he says.
Any added sanitation and safety precautions will be a positive for the industry, moving forward. “It’s going to hold us accountable to deliver a better product,” Montoya says.
States in which gyms have already reopened have seen a surge of people interested in fitness, Montoya says, which seems to be bearing itself out in Fresno, too, judging by the number of people out exercising.
“If you live in Fresno and you drive by Woodward Park, it’s been amazing to see how many people are out moving,” he says.
It’s a similar message from Planet Fitness.
“Now more than ever it’s important to stay active, in order to stay healthy, and we look forward to safely and responsibly welcoming our members back to Planet Fitness,” says Becky Zirlen, a senior public relations manager at Planet Fitness.
The national gym chain has been working with its area franchisees and expects to reopen those locations next week.
The chain has three locations in Fresno. The gyms are taking a phased approach to reopen.
“In doing so, we are taking a number of steps to protect the health and well-being of our team members and members, which include enhanced cleanliness and sanitization policies and procedures, physical distancing measures, reducing physical touch points in the club, and more,” Zirlen says.
— to www.fresnobee.com