At White Tail CrossFit in Leander, owner Damon Johnson is restarting group classes May 18, and he said he is ready to bring his community back together in a safe, comfortable environment.

Texas gyms and fitness centers can reopen May 18, and the state released guidelines for gyms and exercise facilities and their patrons.

Gyms, fitness facilities and classes cannot exceed the 25% occupancy limit, which does not include employees or contractors, according to the state’s minimum standard health protocols.

Owners of fitness studios and gyms in Leander and Cedar Park have spent the last weeks planning how to reopen. Some have released opening dates, while others are evaluating when to open.

White Tail CrossFit has prepared by purchasing a cleaning caddy for each person to have bleach, hand towels and sanitizer on-hand. Everyone washes their hands when entering and leaving the facility as well.

Johnson said his goal is to make everyone feel comfortable while working out. Classes are limited to nine people, and everyone will be spaced 6 feet apart or more. Three outdoor stations were also created for people who are not ready to be fully back yet.

The gym will check people for coronavirus symptoms before entering, but Johnson encourages people to workout from home with signs of any symptom.

“Even if you know it's allergies and you come in and sneeze, that’s going to scare a few people.”

Johnson said his gym has lost some members, but White Tail CrossFit's community has stayed involved through daily Zoom classes and lending equipment to people for at-home workouts.

Members have supported each other through crises before, Johnson said, and the community extends beyond working out together a few times a week. He said he is excited to bring the community back together.

“I’m ready to get back to it,” he said.

Working out logistics

Samantha McCue owns Bloc Cycle and Omnibarre in Cedar Park, and both studios will open May 20. She also said online classes will continue for both studios.

McCue said online class attendance has surprised her. Students have told her they have joined online classes just to see others’ faces and see how their families are doing.

“Even during this struggle of doing everything online, they’re still getting on to see our staff and be a part of a community," McCue said. "I’ve been surprised at how much people have participated."

Students will disinfect their stations before use for a thorough sanitation in addition to the studios’ cleansing of equipment, workout stations and bikes after each use. Students are also encouraged to bring their own equipment to Omnibarre classes, which are limited to eight students.

Bloc Cycle classes are limited to 10. The studio has created enough space by renting out half of its bikes so clients can continue riding at home, McCue said.

McCue, an aerospace engineer by day, said she has used more of her engineering skills at her studios than for her regular job. The logistics of running online classes and calculating class sizes and space availability has been a new challenge.

Summer is a slow season for the fitness industry between summer vacations and irregular schedules, McCue said. She added that she hopes people will continue working out in-person or online, especially as the studios have now been shuttered for two months.

McCue said the studios will keep working and see what happens with an uncertain future.

“Maybe this summer will be an exception to the rule, and that would be great,” she said.

'Straddling the two realities'

The two Pure Barre studios in Cedar Park and Round Rockhave not confirmed a date to reopen.

Owner Rebecca Dunn said her two studios will not reopen May 18, but she expects clients to be able to return near June 1.

"A majority of them are eager to get back in, but we are seeing reservations by some," Dunn said. "So we're just trying to take that all into account as we move forward."

Online classes have been a popular, well-received solution for the studio while its doors have been closed, Dunn said. These will continue alongside in-person classes as everyone is "straddling the two realities."

The studios are following guidelines to keep limited class sizes and are cleaning studios after each use. They will also have larger gaps between class times to allow for cleaning.

"We're really trying to reduce any overlap of members coming and going from the studio," she said.

Equipment used within classes will be limited and cleaned, maybe multiple times, between classes. Dunn said she will be cognizant of what kind of classes are offered and what equipment will be used in those classes.

Both communities have been patient with the reopening timeline, and clients have trusted the studios to open with the right timing, Dunn said.

"They've been giving us some grace in this process, which has been really nice," she said.