SAN JOSE, Calif. - The strain of operating a gym in the midst of COVID-19 in Santa Clara County got a little easier on Thursday.
Gym patrons were finally allowed inside to tone body and spirit for the first time since a failed reopening in July.
“We’re ready. We’re ready for you to come in and provide you with a safe clean space for you to take care of your physical well-being, and also your mental well-being,” said Ben Randall, a regional operations manager for the 24 Hour Fitness chain, which operates 14 locations in the county.
The county's move to the red tier on the state's new blueprint is a godsend for dedicated fitness enthusiasts who’ve had to “DIY” it, or see their tone soften. After July's reversal, they are cautiously optimistic this time it will hold up.
“2020 has been very difficult. This is like something that’s within our control. It’s really important to keep a little bit of routine back. And working out has always been very healthy for all of us mentally and physically,” said Xuan Nguyen, a gym member who was in for an early morning workout on Thursday.
Under California's new framework, gyms can only operate indoors at 10% capacity.
“It’s important, as we keep opening these sectors, that we keep in mind this risk reduction framework. And so that overlay continues to exist,” Santa Clara County Council James Williams said Tuesday.
Many gyms require patrons to make reservations and team members to submit to temperature checks. All facilities require face masks and social distancing. Group workouts aren't allowed.
Economists say the reopening of these facilities will help the overall health of the economy.
“As long as they can cover their costs, this is going to be a great thing. Or even partial costs. Because that will extend their lifetime of being able to support that business until they can get back to full operation,” said Dr. Colleen Haight, an economist at San Jose State University.
Santa Clara County could move up another tier in the coming weeks, or revert to the lowest level. That direction, experts say, depends on how well the populous keeps up its struggle against COVID-19.