WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Gyms and fitness centers have been closed in Florida since stay-at-home orders were put in place in early April.
The recommendation from the Reopen Florida Task Force is for gyms and fitness centers to open in some capacity in Phase Two.
However, that feels a long way away for gyms in Palm Beach County where Phase One has not even begun.
Under Phase Two, gyms will be able to operate at 75 percent capacity.
Phase Two says gyms in Florida would also have to:
- Adhere to strict social distancing and sanitation protocols, including cleaning and disinfecting all surfaces after each use
- Separate patrons by at least 6 feet
- Resume indoor group sessions and classes with restricted capacity to promote social distancing, as the virus is most transmissible indoors under close, sustained contact
Under the guidelines issued by the state, "Phase 2 will begin after the successful conclusion of Phase 1, which includes a downward trajectory of the syndromic and epidemiology criteria while maintaining adequate health care capacity. This will occur when there is no evidence of a rebound or resurgence of COVID-19 cases."
Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties are not a part of Phase One yet due to higher coronavirus cases than other parts of Florida.
Since the shutdown a few months ago, fitness centers have been fighting to survive.
“We’re doing at home online workouts, which are great, and people are doing them, but it’s just not quite the same as hitting a bag,” said Mike Johnson, the owner of 9Round Kickboxing Fitness kickboxing in Wellington.
Johnson said the gym qualified for a Payroll Protection Program loan, but it has to be used to pay his employees within eight weeks of receiving it.
The problem is his business can’t open under current state orders.
“It’s almost as if the plan has failed at the beginning especially for gym owners and other businesses that can’t open right now,” said Johnson.
Other gyms like Crazytrain Crossfit in West Palm Beach aren’t even eligible because their employees or trainers are considered contractors.
Co-owner Billy Noething said the gym received an economic injury disaster loan from the Small Businesses Administration, but it’s not even enough to make rent.
“I don’t want to sit here and say that I’m super unhappy because we’re being told we need to be closed. I mean this is a place where germs can be spread very easy, but I think at the same time if we are able to get into the phase one, and given strict guidelines, we will abide by them,” said Noething.
Crazytrain Crossfit has 2,800 square feet to work with. Workout platforms are already 6 feet apart.
Johnson at 9Round Kickboxing also has nine stations spaced 7 feet apart. Both gym owners said they immediately moved to capping classes on a sign-up only basis and implementing sanitizing protocols prior to being ordered to close.
“The day that we are told that we can open, we have a game plan already set to continue and move forward so that everyone is safe,” said Noethig.