Phase 2 of Connecticut’s reopening plan went into effect in June, and gyms were one of the businesses allowed to throw their doors open once again.
“We opened on the first day we could, on Wednesday, June 17,” said Jack Banks, co-owner of Powerhouse Gym of Berlin and Malibu Fitness in Farmington.
“Initially, it was a big rush to come back in. A lot of new members joined, a lot of enthusiasm. Since then the overall volume of people has been down.”
Banks said the state’s reopening protocols “get a little bit ambiguous.” The rules include social distancing and mask-wearing.
“You may be six feet apart, but (what if you) cross paths with someone. It’s a fluid situation at the gym,” Banks said. “It’s not as cut and dried as initially thought.”
Banks said if a gym-goer isn’t complying with the mask protocol, they’ll be reminded of the rules.
“I’ve done that,” he said. “People are extremely understanding. They start out seven or eight feet apart and get closer. I went up to them and said, ‘you have to put a mask on.’ There was no grief whatsoever. It’s more of a reminder thing. People feel at home here, they are talking to someone they know. But there is a rule that applies to everyone, otherwise the whole thing would break down.”
Jason Perrone is co-owner of Revolution Fitness Club in North Haven. He said business has been steady since reopening.
“I haven’t had a bunch of people cancel or quit. People are trying to wait and see a bit,” Perrone said. “We also had a fair number of new sign-ups.”
Following new safety protocols hasn’t been an issue at Revolution Fitness.
“My club was made socially-distanced,” Perrone said. “We aren’t a traditional gym. Once you get settled, you grab what you need and you could do a whole body workout … well beyond six feet from anyone else. It’s closer to 12 feet. Members wear masks going in and get settled for their workout and keep their distance.”
As a business owner, Perrone said he has experienced every emotion since the pandemic shut down the state in March. “Initially, it was fear,” he said. “We were trying to get different government assistance just to survive. We talked to landlords about payments. We weren’t sure we would come out on the other end. We are excited to be back. We think we can come back stronger and we are doing what we need to do to stay afloat.”
The shutdown occurred just when people would normally be thinking about warmer weather and working on their “beach body.”
“We were entering the busiest weeks of the season,” said Banks. “With summer coming, everyone wants to get in shape. Being closed cut a lot of revenue. Those three months were filled with the normal bills, mortgages, taxes and utilities. It’s fantastic to get open again.”
From Banks’ perspective, going to a gym right now shouldn’t spook people. “We have 27,000 square feet. That’s a huge amount of square feet per-person, relatively speaking, compared to a Stop & Shop,” Banks said. “If they were going to a Stop & Shop in the height of a pandemic, it’s infinitely safer in a fitness center right now.”