HEALTHY LIVING: 5 things to know about gyms reopening

WALLINGFORD — Erika Hurst, of Durham, is the owner of Strongher Fitness in Wallingford. Her business, formerly known as Hurst Strength, will be reopening this week. 

Hurst’s garage style gym has been a haven for those who prefer a more personalized fitness approach. I met with her recently to get an idea of what gyms will look like when they reopen. 

Joan Goodman, membership and marketing director of the Meriden, New Britain, and Berlin YMCAs, emailed a statement detailing plans for the Y’s reopening. 

1. Sanitization measures

“I just completed the self-certification for the government’s compliance for reopening safely” said Hurst.

Throughout Strongher Fitness, 168 North Plains Industrial Road, there are signs detailing the state’s COVID-19 prevention efforts, including staying home when ill, frequent hand washing, wearing masks, and keeping at least 6 feet from others. 

“We have the big garage door that we open for extra ventilation” said Hurst.

Hurst said each client that enters the gym will receive their own cleaning products.  Commonly touched surfaces will be cleaned throughout the day and there will be a deep clean each night.

The Meriden, New Britain, and Berlin YMCA’s safety procedures include temperature checks and stringent sanitization measures including an electrostatic sprayer.

2. Personal training

Due to the nature of Hurst’s personalized fitness business she is accustomed to working with only a few clients at a time.

“Everything has always been appointment only,” said Hurst.

Strongher fitness offers small group, semi-private training.

“It’s never been more than three people in here per appointment time” said Hurst.

Hurst will be further limiting her sessions to two people per hour.

The Meriden, New Britain, and Berlin Y’s stated that reservations will be required in the fitness center, pool and group exercise areas to ensure that social distancing and capacity guidelines are met.

3. Virtual training

Hurst said she has transitioned much of her client base online to accommodate them during the shutdown.

She added that Strongher Fitness will continue offering online training sessions for those who do not feel comfortable heading into the gym just yet.

Goodman said local YMCA members have access to virtual training sessions as well.

“We also have a library of virtual workouts for our members” said Goodman.

4. Starting from scratch

Many gym-goers will be restarting their workout routine after months of no structured physical activity. 

Hurst said that a lot of people get stuck in the all or nothing mindset.

“One of our favorite phrases here is, all or something...just take that one little step” said Hurst.

Hurst said that she will be scaling back her clients’ workout programs to adjust for the three months spent away from the gym.

5. Less equipment

Hurst has been devising workouts which require less equipment for her clients so there are not as many frequent touchpoints.

Hurst said that you can reach your fitness goals with minimal or no equipment by using your body weight to exercise and controlling the tempo. 

“A really great way to make any exercise harder without adding weight or using weight is to slow it down” said Hurst. 

The Meriden, New Britain, and Berlin Y’s statement included a section advising members to enter the facility ready to exercise in order to limit the amount of time spent in locker rooms. 

The Y is asking that members leave gym bags and personal belongings at home. 

For more information about Strongher Fitness visit

For more information about the Meriden YMCAs reopening visit

Kristen Dearborn is a Wallingford native, NASM certified personal trainer and author of the blog dearfitkris –


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