gym

Atilis Gym, The Path To Reopening Gyms in New Jersey

You can play online casino games at sites like online casino South Africa, but it is pretty hard to do a decent physical workout online.  There is only so many times you can walk up and down your steps and call it exercise without going insane.  

Exercise is not just a physical exercise.  It is an emotional one as well.  The mind and body work together.  You can’t exercise one without exercising the other.

As most health professionals will tell you, “use it or lose it”.  That goes for your mind as well as your body.  

Gyms are anxious to reopen, and customers are anxious to return to using these businesses.  So what are gyms doing to get our society back to that level?  Let’s take a look at what one business in NJ is doing and what is going on in the rest of the country.

During the Coronavirus Break

As with a lot of businesses, many owners took closure of their businesses as an opportunity to do remodeling, renovations, general repairs, and upgrades and expansions to their businesses.  Many restaurants, bars, and gyms took this route.

But when the renovations were done, and the coronavirus situation was starting to get under control in terms of medical needs in the state, it became time to start planning the reopening of businesses.

Atilis Gym decided to include in their renovations a huge outside training area.  In other words, an excellent location for people to do social distancing while getting in some exercise.  The area includes squat racks, dumbbells, benches, and a 55 foot cross training rig, plus more.

May 14, 2020

The Chief of Staff for the governor called various gym owners, including Atillis Gym, to give them green light to have a conversation about opening gyms.  The meeting was scheduled for Monday, May 18, 2020 at 4 pm.

May 18, 2020

The governor was supposed to do a meeting with various gym owners to talk about a path to reopening gyms, but the governor of New Jersey did not show up for the meeting.  The NJ head of the coronavirus task force was at the meeting.  The meeting ended with no date given and no plan for when and how gyms would be allowed to reopen.

May 19, 2020

Atilis Gym opens in defiance of the New Jersey Governor’s shutdown order.  The owner’s views were that they tried to have a discussion with the governor and the Coronavirus Task Force, and they were not given an open date or a plan for opening.  Yes, customers and staff should be kept safe, but keeping businesses closed indefinitely is unconstitutional.

Letter to Governor Murphy Dated May 19, 2020

Dear Governor Murphy,

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken its toll on the lives of every person in this nation, with New Jersey residents being especially hard-hit. The loss of life is an anguish that we will all carry with us as we make decisions that impact the lives of those around us. We cannot let this virus destroy our bodies, our faith, and our future. | am asking that you take necessary steps to open much-needed segments of our daily lives with precautions that are focused on protecting the lives of the elderly, those with pre-existing conditions, and the disabled. We all must work together on a plan to survive and reopen.

South Jersey is hurting, and businesses need to start opening, but we must help inform their decisions to open safely and with the proper precautions in place; both can be done.

I am asking that you do not destroy the future of South Jersey by continuing draconian restrictions that inhibit people’s faith or their business success during the looming summer season. As you know, South Jersey is dependent upon the summer season and the tourism it brings, with many businesses solely relying on summer tourism revenue. This drives our restaurants, salons, retail stores, hotel industry, casinos, gyms, and numerous other sectors. This shutdown not only hurts the business owners, it hurts the staff.

Restaurants could operate in a safe manner by offering limited seating, providing proper sanitation and PPE, and ensuring proper distancing while still being able to offer more opportunity to dine inside. We have more than anecdotal evidence of the success that other areas of this country have seen with how to successfully operate and keep their patrons and staff safe. Salons and cosmetology professionals should be allowed to operate with the similar restrictions in place for distancing, disinfecting and hygiene that would allow for them to operate effectively. Retail businesses need to be able to do more than curbside pickup. Protections must be enacted for the businesses and the customers to ensure safety, but these can be done while also allowing the business owners to welcome customers into the stores.

Our gym owners’ proposed plan for reopening. Your staff called it “well-thought out and streamlined.” The call went well, but there was zero indication of any timeline for reopening. I am asking that you open gyms on June 1* to provide our people the physical, and mental well-being that proper exercise offers. The benefits of exercise go far beyond the physical benefits of weight loss, disease mitigation, and mental health. There are thousands of jobs and livelihoods on the line that may be forever impacted without the use of such a cogent plan that was presented to your team.

The plan, which is attached to this letter, outlines the precautions that can be taken. Such precautions include mandatory hygiene, effective usage of PPE, proper social distancing, and capacity limitations. One gym owner installed UV filter technology that kills viruses when they enter the ventilation system, which is something we would encourage.

The benefits of a healthy body are well-known. Gyms provide the resources and facilities for people to accomplish one goal: be healthier. Whether it is staving off diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, or cancer, the health benefits of exercise are nearly unending. The mental health benefits at a time of anxiety and loss for people could prove to be lifesaving as well; we must keep people mentally healthy. Gyms provide that release for people. I implore you to open these facilities and utilize the plan presented to you to keep people safe and healthy.

On May 5″ I sent a letter to your office asking you to consider other parts of our lives to reopen. In that letter I stated, “we must reopen our places of worship.” Faith is also an essential component of a healthy, well-rounded life. The same protections for the vulnerable must be enacted to save lives, such as outdoor seating or spacing and proper sanitation, but to think that you can go into a “big-box” store and not be exposed to more risk is a farce.

People should not be punished for exercising their first amendment and God-given rights. While some may say you can do it from afar, every person has the right to practice their faith in the way that they see fit, not the way a government has decided. Please reopen places of worship immediately; we can enact precautionary measures so that people can practice the faith that drives so many of their lives.

Our region and state are becoming continuously agitated at the lack of movement on these and many other issues. We are even placing law enforcement in a precarious situation …

The letter obviously goes on, and there is mention at the beginning of the letter of details of a plan, but those were not posted on Facebook and I could not find reference to them on Atilis’s website.  But just from reading what is posted above, these various Gym owners have put a lot of thought into the development of their plan.  From an outsider looking in, they did not spend the last 2+ months sitting around complaining about their places of businesses being closed.  That took that time to improve their physical places of businesses, and then turned their attention to how they could safely open their businesses, keeping with the goal of keeping their customers and staff safe while they exercise.

May 20, 2020

Gyms were still closed in NJ.

How Atilis Gym reopened in New Jersey

The owner’s view is that he is not taking the situation lightly and has implemented several items to help keep his customers healthy.

  1. Operating at 20% capacity.  Most businesses that have been allowed to open are usually restricted to 10% at first and then moved to 30%, so being at 20% is right in the middle of that range.
  2. Taping off workout stations
  3. All employees wore American flag themed bandana style facemasks
  4. Every customer was given disinfectant supplies to wipe down workout areas before and after their workout.

Atilis Gym’s main complaint is that the government has not created a plan for how gyms should operate.  They believe that it is unfair to tell gym owners that they have to remain closed indefinitely.  

Many businesses owners do not have an objection to the government creating special guidelines for businesses that might have special needs in keeping customers safe during these times.  But so far, no local or federal government agency has created Standard Operating Procedures for gyms and other sports facilities.  Just telling these businesses “Just stay closed” with no end in sight is not a long term solution.

What other states are doing

At the height of the pandemic, everybody was restricted to exercising at home.  My sisters even reminded me of the “Go Chicken Fat Go” exercise song that we used to do in gym class when we were kids.  Although it was nice to exercise down memory lane, everybody is getting the itch to do “real exercise”. 

Gyms are currently allowed to operate in 26 states, as restrictions are gradually being lifted.  Some changes may only be temporary, but other changes may be here to stay.   Here is a list of policies that gyms across the nation are implementing.

  • Rigorous cleaning
  • Enforced social distancing, according to CDC guidelines
  • Limited capacity
  • Daily intermission from 1pm – 2pm, when staffers restock cleaning supplies and clean the gym.  Members already inside and continue to workout, but no new members can enter the facility during this time.
  • Staff must always wear masks and gloves.
  • Anybody entering the gyms must have their temperature taken with a contactless thermometer
  • Gym patrons must also sign a new code of conduct agreeing to respect the Gym’s enhanced new cleaning standards and practice safe physical distancing in the facility.
  • New agreement also says that customers must stay home if they have flu like symptoms.
  • Equipment that is marked non-operational (to promote social distancing) must not be used.
  • Thoroughly wipe down equipment after use with cleaning supplies provided by the gym.
  • Contactless check in to help reduce contact between staff and customers.
  • Appointments for high demand times and high demand equipment.

Digital workouts vs. in gym workouts

Digitally guided workouts have boomed during the pandemic, but there is a sense of community that a gym provides.  There is also the support system that gym professionals provide, as well as the informal work buddies.  

Some gym owners predict that gym customers may end up doing a hybrid approach to their exercise.  1 or 2 days a week they may workout at home, while another day or two a week they will visit a gym, or maybe even as high as 3 or 4 days a week.

Final thoughts to consider

Don’t wear an N95 mask while trying to run 2.5 miles.  A person in China tried to do this, and ended up getting lung damage.  N95 masks are the best to filter out germs, but they also reduce the amount of oxygen you can breathe in.  This is not good during a physical workout.

Surgical masks or cotton masks or cotton bandana masks can provide the protection that you need while at the same time making sure you get the needed oxygen.

Some people comment that masks are not 100% protective.  But think of it in these terms. 

Anybody that has a fever or is showing signs of physical illness is not allowed into the gym.  So the only people working out in the gym or managing the gym are people, who at worst, are asymptomatic.  In other words, they have the virus in their body, but the virus is not far enough along for them to show symptoms or there is not enough of the virus in their body for their body to show symptoms.

Assume person A is an asymptomatic person.  That person is wearing a mask.  The mask provides 35% protection against the person releasing the germs into the air.  That means that there is a 65% chance that the germs could get into the air.

Person B is a healthy person with no virus in their body.  Person B is also wearing a mask.  Person B’s mask is also provding a 35% protection.  Add 35% to 35% and the protection goes up to 70%.  

That still leaves a 30% chance of getting an infection.  Well, again, we are not talking about a group of people who are very sick, who are coughing and sneezing and wiping their noses.  We are talking about people who are generally healthy, but may have some infection in their body.  But the infection is not enough for them to show symptoms (and they have not knowingly been exposed to somebody who is known to be sick).  So the probability that they are spreading the virus to begin with is already low.  Not zero, but already low.

Yes, there is still a chance the virus can spread, but each level of protection (social distancing, touchless systems, wiping down equipment, washing hands before and after entering the place, wearing facemasks, and other common sense stuff) the probability of getting infected by an asymptomatic person becomes greatly reduced.

Nothing in life is 100%, but there is an area between acting with no care in the world in one extreme and hiding in your apartment the rest of your life in the other extreme.  

It is that balance that these gyms and other businesses are aiming for.

So what are your thoughts?  Is anything missing from the list a safety precautions that gyms and other related facilities should be taking?  If you can think of any, include them in the comments below.

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