Gov. Greg Abbott announced earlier this month that exercise facilities will be allowed to reopen May 18 with proper social distancing measures in place.
"Initially, [gyms and exercise facilities] can open up to 25% capacity for the gym component," he said on May 5. "For the initial time period until we're able [to] both get better strategies and get better control of COVID-19, showers and locker rooms must remain closed during this first phase, all equipment must be disinfected after each use, [and] customers should wear gloves that cover the whole hands and fingers."
At CrossFit Löwe in downtown Frisco, co-owner Cari Baer said the 25% capacity fits with how she and her husband, Derek Lowe, run their classes. But they do expect to have a busy weekend before opening on Monday, she said.
“Derek and I are going to be disinfecting everything [and] taping off sections within the gym that show areas of social distancing so people can kind of stay spread apart and get rocking and rolling on Monday,” Cari Baer said. “We don't foresee any problems fitting people in our space and staying under the capacity that they want us to, until we get officially back to 100%.”
Baer said they will also be picking up equipment that was distributed to members to continue programming from home during the pandemic.
“As some weeks went by, we went and did some sidewalk one-on-ones where we would coach from the sidewalk, and they would be in their garage,” Baer said.
Horizon Hot Yoga co-owner Mary Von Ahnen said she plans to continue live-streaming her in-person classes for those who are not yet ready to return to the studio. At Frisco Yoga & Nutrition, owner Susan Thomas said half of her classes will remain virtual, while the other half will be done in-studio.
“We’re staggering them so we have a live class and then a virtual class so we can disinfect the studio in between the live classes,” Thomas said, noting many of her customers are excited to come back.
Wendy Randall, owner and creator/founder of Hot Body Yoga, said she had many people attend her free virtual classes. Registrations are already filling up for classes that resume May 18, she said.
“We can set a limit on how many we’re going to take,” Randall said, noting all scheduling is done through the studio's app. “It was easy for us to say we're six feet apart horizontally, and we're 10 feet apart vertically, and then just only allow that many reservations in each class.”
Altitude Aerial Arts & Fitness Frisco owner Tricia Lauerman said she plans to offer all of her circus-inspired fitness classes, but with no more than six people per class. And with a limited number of apparatuses, some classes will be even smaller, she said.
“We only have three trapeze, so by default [it] is going to be a semi-private class because you have the instructor and two clients,” Lauerman said. “If you want to take a trapeze class, you're going to have to pay for a semi-private lesson because there's just two [spots].”
Randall said she knows people are trying to decide whether they want to be in any business right now.
“Anyone that walks into your business that's uncomfortable, they have the prerogative to walk out,” the Hot Body Yoga owner said. “Of course, we will be extending all kinds of grace to anybody who changes their mind.”
Baer estimated that at least 50% of CrossFit Löwe’s customers continued their regular payments during the pandemic. The business has received several new inquiries during the last two weeks, he said.
“People are ready to get out of their homes and start focusing on their health and wellness,” Baer said. “So we're excited to help them and introduce them to our community.”
At Altitude Aerial Arts, Lauerman said she has gotten inquiries from frontline workers about whether they would be allowed to come to the facility.
“We're in the process of setting up private classes, that if they're comfortable coming in and having a coach with them, they can come in and practice on their own,” she said. “Then we'll do things like clean all apparatuses and the room afterwards. And they get a discount off of what it would regularly cost somebody that isn't a frontline worker.”
Lauerman said scheduling fewer classes with less participants and allowing time to disinfect and clean the facility make reopening financially difficult at 25% capacity.
“But it's the exchange that we're going to have to make just to get something going,” she said.
Von Ahnen said Horizon Hot Yoga is reducing its number of classes from 45 a week to just 19 to allow a thorough cleaning of every room after each class.
“We have gone to great lengths to make sure that we are as safe and sanitized as we possibly can be,” Von Ahnen said. “Of course, that may make a yoga class, which is supposed to be calm and restful, a little bit stressful for a while until people get used to it.”
At Hot Body Yoga, Randall said the business had built most of its classes up to capacity before the pandemic. After being closed for 60 days, she said operating at limited capacity is not going to work in the long run.
“I’m a busy, busy studio,” Randall said. “People wait to get a text that someone unreserved [a spot in class] so they can come. It’s not sustainable at 25%.”