As South Austin gyms and fitness centers reopened May 18, Pilates South Austin co-owners Beth Dukleth and Kari Levassar said they have been thrilled to see clients return after being closed for two months during the coronavirus pandemic.

Pilates South Austin, which opened in 2012 and is located at 9901 Brodie Lane, Ste. 145, staff had been able to stay connected with some clients during the previous closure through virtual classes. However, as Pilates is an exercise style that requires the use of equipment and individual instructor attention, Levassar said the people they had been reaching were a fraction of their normal business.

Now, the business has reopened for private sessions, and smaller group classes have resumed under the new state guidelines as well as under some additional regulations the business put in place on its own after gathering client feedback.

“Opening is [a] balance between staying in business and safety being the priority,” Levassar said. “We had to close for two months, so when the state of Texas said that we could open, we decided we would with the most safety precautions we possibly could.”

At least 18 other fitness centers in South Austin reopened this week, including national gym chains, such as Gold's Gym, Planet Fitness and Anytime Fitness.

Since PSA is a smaller gym, Levassar said, new guidelines have been manageable to put in place and enforce.

“We have a lot of control over who touches what to keep our clients safe, and for that reason, we felt like it was the right decision to open up so we can stay in business,” she said.

Dukleth said precautions at the fitness studio include requiring everyone to wear a mask and to wear socks on the gym floor. Equipment has also been spaced at least6 feet apart, and all scheduling and payments are taking place online.

Sessions have been shortened slightly to allow for 10-minute gaps between classes to reduce foot traffic, she said. During that gap, doors are left open so customers do not have to touch the door handle, and the studio is disinfected.

Overall, the response from clients has been mostly positive at the studio. However, Dukleth said the business has been well under the 25% capacity allowed by the state, as some gym members are not yet ready to return.

"We're excited to be open, but it is all very daunting, and we're not quite sure how it's going to go,” Dukleth said. “We've had some people who can't wait to come back in, and we have other people that have either lost their jobs and can't come back or who are immunocompromised and don't feel like they can."