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NJ gyms can reopen Tuesday with new safety protocols, restrictions

Gyms reopening
Posted at 7:49 AM, Sep 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-01 17:12:58-04

NEW JERSEY — Gyms across New Jersey can begin to open again Tuesday, as long as they follow strict new guidelines, Gov. Phil Murphy announced earlier in August.

Gym owners and customers will have to follow new coronavirus safety protocols, including a 25% cap on building capacity. Masks are also mandatory, Murphy said.

Logs must be kept for both staff and members entering and leaving the facility.

Group fitness classes can resume but are limited to one person per 200 square feet.

Equipment must be distanced 6 feet apart and regular sanitizing of equipment is required.

Gyms in the Garden State were shut down nearly six months ago in March in at attempt to mitigate the spread of the virus.

In July, gyms were allowed to reopen for individual training by appointment only.

The governor's strict approach to gyms reopening has been a point of contention between his administration and gym owners and members.

A gym in southern New Jersey filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the governor's executive order that shut down businesses deemed non-essential. A federal judge in June declined to allow the gym to reopen as the lawsuit continued.

The owners were also arrested and cited several times for illegally reopening in defiance of Murphy's coronavirus executive orders.

"Staff and members alike are so excited to be back in the gym," said Tyler Horne, a manager at Planet Fitness in Elizabeth, where signs are posted on every other fitness machine to keep people six feet apart. "All of our social distancing has been put in place," said Horne. "We use a lot more safety and cleaning procedures."

While members across the state can get back to lifting weights or hop on a treadmill, group classes are still severely restricted. Capacity limits are set at only one person per 200 square feet inside an instruction room.

At the Meadowlands YMCA in East Rutherford, they’ve moved gym equipment onto an oversized basketball court.

"Unlike most cycling studios, we are able to spread out and meet the requirements," said David Kisselback, President of the Meadowlands YMCA. The basketball gymnasium will remain closed for contact sports so cyclists and other classes can sprawl out.

"This morning we had eight people for the morning class when we opened at 6 a.m.," said Kisselback, who said while the YMCA is a non-profit, they’ve suffered severely during the shut down. They've lost approximately $4 million dollars.

"We had to lay off 300 employees," said Kisselback.

At check-in, gym members across New Jersey must have their temperature taken and must answer questions about if they’ve come in contact with coronavirus.

Most gyms are keeping their showers and locker rooms closed, unless there is a pool on site, so you should come dressed for your workout. You should also prepare to bring your own equipment, such as a water bottle or yoga mat.

This story comprises reporting from The Associated Press.