Different fitness and exercise facilities in Owensboro-Daviess County have worked their way through a year of COVID-19 regulations and protocols.
Capacity levels have been settled in at 50-60%, with active social distancing, cleaning, and mask wearing protocols still in place.
Exercise and gym facilities contacted were all saying masks were required to come in and workout.
“Masking is still required,” said Collette Carter, director of the Owensboro Health Healthpark. “We still have temperature screenings in the front, that’s how we handle volume. The pool is open, we allow three people per lane for swimming. There are capacity limits for the therapy pool and for exercise classes.
“We’re always emphasizing safety first, for members, patients and staff.”
To maintain social distancing the Healthpark shut down pieces of equipment and had closed the walking/running track initially, but that was opened back up.
Regulations are being observed at Iron Jungle Family Fitness.
“We do still have every other treadmill marked off, the weight machines, the functioning portion of the machine where you sit is 6-foot apart,” said Jennifer Berry, fiancee of Iron Jungle owner Chris Massey.
Locker rooms are also set up for social distancing.
After being shut down on March 18, 2020, because of COVID mandates from Gov. Andy Beshear and the CDC, gyms and other exercise facilities were allowed to reopen at limited capacity in June, 2020.
“That was on our two-year anniversary,” Berry said.
Capacity limits now are at 50-60%, which doesn’t really have a bad effect on gyms and other exercise facilities, which generally are never close to filled.
“We’re at 50% of capacity, it hasn’t affected the wellness center as much as it did with gymnasium, where we’re not allowed to have interactive sports,” said John C. Alexander, president and CEO of the Owensboro Family YMCA. “The gymnasium is shut down, we don’t have pick-up basketball. We’ve been very conservative, we’re trying to follow the requirements, and interactive sports are not to be allowed.
“People are gradually starting to come back. We work well with Kentucky Wesleyan, they’re a great partner, and their athletes. We’ve tried to have it more of a trickle-in situation with their athletes instead of teams in mass.”
The Healthpark and Iron Jungle are also seeing people comfortable enough to slowly come back to working out.
“We’ve seen a very gradual increase in people coming back,” Carter said. “Most were excited to get back in their classes, or exercising on the fitness floor. Our members know that there are so many benefits from exercise, they want to get back in routines and getting some normalcy back. People make this a part of their life.
“We’ve had a lot of people look forward to their exercise class, they may have a favorite instructor. They’re happy to be back with their co-exercisers, back with their folks who support them.”
Older groups were more hesitant to come back until vaccines were available, and as they learned more about how about the extra cleaning protocols, the distancing in the workout areas, they became more comfortable to return.
Berry said Iron Jungle is seeing 500-600 people over a 24-hour period. Iron Jungle is open 24 hours a day.
“We still have a couple of hundred where we allowed them to suspend their accounts if they wanted to stop coming,” Berry said.
Alexander wanted the Family Y to be very cautious.
“We did not want to be an incubator for COVID,” Alexander said. “We tried to be very careful with members and staff.
“We look at numbers on a weekly basis and monthly. People are coming back, people are getting weary of not getting to workout, but also not getting to network, there are people who come in here to workout with their friends.”
Carter thinks her staff has benefitted from the return of some their members to the Healthpark.
“It’s been exciting for us as a staff,” Carter said. “We value our members, it’s been motivating to see people come back and get in their classes and routines.”