Philly gyms reopen with 'social fitnessing' in mind


UPDATED: July 20, 1:15 p.m.

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Gyms in Philadelphia are officially open again.

Monday morning, armed with a list of new restrictions — like a 6-foot social distancing mandate, a mask requirement, and stricter cleaning protocols — gyms like Planet Fitness in Southwest Philadelphia welcomed back its members.

Planet Fitness member Alonda Parkur’s daily gym routine was upended back in March, when the pandemic forced establishments across the state to close.

“The first month I was active. The second month I was active. But the third month, I started losing my drive,” she admitted. 

She’s happy to be back, even though working out with a face mask will take some getting used to.

“It was a relief. I was definitely looking forward to it. It was an amazing experience,” she said. “Everything was clean. Everyone kept their distance, they leveled out everything. I feel like they did a great job.”

Uujaye Jackson had to adjust to working out with a mask, too.

“It was a little weird because when you're working out you sweat a lot, there's a lot of body burn. But overall, it was not bad. It was just something new,” he said.

An avid gym-goer, Jackson has been stressed without a consistent place to exercise.

“Coming back today, it felt good. It felt real good to be back,” he added. 

As for the new mandates: “I give them an A, probably an A+,” he said. “Very clean. It looks safe too.”

Improvising outdoors

During the gym hiatus, many people like Greg Schumann opted for bodyweight workouts and outdoor runs. But after months of makeshift workouts, he said they are just not cutting it anymore, and he's ready to get back in the gym.

"It's about time," he opined. "I just hope they have the right precautions in place for everything."

Others like Kristine Caufield, a swim instructor, has enjoyed her gymless workouts and the virtual classes that come with it. But, she is also ready to get back into the gym, even if that means wearing a face mask and practicing social distancing.

"I hope they have the staff in place to keep everything clean. Their PPE prices are probably going to go up a lot, so hopefully people show up and support their gyms if they want them to stay open," he said.

Schumann hopes people are not apprehensive about getting back in the gym either, because he sees it as a win-win.

"From my clients' standpoint, the healthier they can be, the better chance they do stand if they catch (COVID-19)," he noted.

Caufield, meanwhile, is prepared to take a different approach in in-person group classes, which are limited to 10 people.

"You kind of have to change what you're doing with being hands-on versus not being hands-on, especially with younger kids and older clients," she explained.

Caufield thinks the mandates can help negate the spread of the coronavirus, and she hopes the city's surprise inspections can also help keep gyms honest.

Philadelphia is one of the last places in the state to allow gyms — which have been closed since March — to reopen.