For many in Sammamish, the closing of gyms and fitness studios in March made the COVID-19 pandemic very real, as residents struggle to figure out how to stay active. Gyms in Washington state must follow the guidelines set forth by Governor Jay Inslee, which means they will not open until phase 3. King County is currently in phase 1.5.
Even when open, they will be limited to 50 percent capacity. So, what will this look like, and are there any essential guidelines for members?
Nate Smith, executive director at the Sammamish YMCA (Y), and Sue Dowling, general manager at the Pine Lake Club, have been busy planning for the reopening of their facilities while being mindful of social distancing guidelines.
Currently, the Sammamish Y only provides childcare for children of essential workers, and has minimized the number of staff working on-site. Wider availability of childcare will be a priority once restrictions relax. Smith believes that could happen in late June or early July.
All Y locations in the greater Seattle area are developing guidelines and protocols that members and staff will be required to observe. For example, not all areas of the facility will open right away, Smith said. Equipment such as treadmills will be rearranged to meet social distancing guidelines.
While the Y is still undecided on whether members will be required to wear masks, staff will definitely be required to do so. In addition, the Y will have a time limit for the length of stay in the facility. The amount of time is still not set.
The Y plans to have staff cleaning throughout the day, along with the usual cleaning before opening and after closing. Members are encouraged to do their part by sanitizing equipment after each use. As an added precaution, the Y will have separate the entrance and exit doors so that members do not run into each other.
Pine Lake Club is also taking extra precautionary measures to ensure a safe, phase 3 return. When reopening, the staff will be required to wear masks, according to Dowling, the club’s general manager. Members will be encouraged to wear masks, but it will not be mandatory.
Dowling said they will add additional staff hours dedicated to cleaning.
“Cleaning and disinfecting will be constant,” she said.
In addition, gloves will be provided for members and staff who wish to wear them.
Unlike the Y, there will be no time limit for building or equipment use. Machines such as treadmills, ellipticals and bikes will be moved to the gymnasium to create greater physical distance between them.
A unique asset of Pine Lake Club is its indoor tennis courts. Unfortunately, indoor tennis will be closed until further notice.
Finally, Pine Lake Club will have a mandatory pre-shift screening checklist for staff, as well as a COVID-19 supervisor to inform, enforce and monitor the safety plan.
In the meantime, the club has partnered with Les Mills, an online fitness program, to provide online classes for its members.
As possible reopening draws closer, many Sammamish residents are eager to return to the gym and work off their COVID-19 weight gain. Gyms are eager to open as well, but ask that members do their part to sanitize equipment, wash hands and practice social distancing. This helps to ensure their gyms can stay open and stay safe.