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When CA fitness centers reopen, SLO gym owners expect move to scheduled fitness, online classes

Posted at 7:52 AM, May 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-29 10:53:28-04

California Gov. Gavin Newsom said earlier this week he'd soon deliver guidance on re-opening fitness centers and now gym owners are preparing to welcome members back in a different way.

Gymnazo on Aerovista Place in San Luis Obispo attracts an older demographic, who appreciate the gym's whole body approach to fitness.

"We blend restorative movements with performance," Gymnazo Co-Owner Paden Hughes said.

Trainers with Gymnazo typically lead small groups through in-house fitness classes or offer one-on-one training in their large gym. But lately, those lessons have been taking place online.

"COVID-19 has accelerated the timetable for fitness to be more online friendly by a decade or so, this has accelerated the transition that was inevitable," Hughes said.

Of the 450 members Gymnazo had at the start of the year, over 400 are still paying dues and participating in virtual classes.

The switch to virtual classes presented a learning curve for some gym members, more than half of whom are over 55 years of age.

"One particular client of mine, he's in his 80s, I spent 45 min with him just getting Zoom ready and it was a worthwhile investment because now we've been doing this for 10 weeks," Michael Hughes said.

Gymnazo does offer lessons that don't require equipment, but some clients want an extra challenge.

"As equipment started to get sparse online, we realized we are an Amazon fulfillment house of equipment and it actually helped us keep revenue up," Michael Hughes said, referring to the gym's new equipment rental program.

In re-opening discussions with SLO County leaders, the Hughes learned gyms will be expected to keep clients 6 feet apart and clean equipment often, requirements that may force members of small gyms to book a fitness appointment.

"So a big thing has been can we create a safe literal box for you to do your workouts in and only you are touching that equipment and you're sanitizing that equipment in between workouts?" Paden Hughes said.

She believes the answer is yes. Gymnazo plans to leave time between each fitness appointment and fog the space after a client completes training.

Paden Hughes said gyms are being advised to have members sign a new liability waiver, acknowledging the risk of contracting the virus when working out in the gym.

But even when Gov. Newsom announces guidance on re-opening California gyms, likely some time in June, Gymnazo plans to stick with virtual training to offer a hybrid program.

"People hire coaches, not workouts and that's not going anywhere anytime soon," Paden Hughes said. "If anything, online allows you the opportunity to align and find coaches that speak into your heart and motivate you to get off the couch and go do something for yourself."