WASHINGTON — Area fitness centers have a lot to work out when COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.
David von Storch is the owner of VIDA Fitness Clubs, one of the region’s upscale fitness chains.
Von Storch said he never imagined closing his gyms throughout Washington for more than a month and a half. On top of that reality, he’s had to change his business model.
"In just one week, we went from thinking we were ahead of the game to really scrambling to try and keep up."
Von Storch said they've been trying to keep members engaged virtually, while also remaining focused on reopening plans in this altered landscape.
"When you check in, you'll get a workout towel and also a disinfecting towel,” Von Storch said when talking about the new procedures at his fitness centers upon reopening.
With fewer people allowed inside, members will now be required to make reservations online, get their temperature checked at the door, no showering will be allowed, and there will be a 1.5 hour workout time limit in place.
Equipment is also spread six feet apart and the fitness centers will close an hour early to disinfect the facilities with fogger machines. "The world is different now,” he said. “Our challenge is trying to get our members to a place where they feel comfortable that it’s safe to come into the gym and workout,” he continued.
For many gyms in Virginia that could open as early as next week, there are similar plans in place.
A prime example is 24 Hour Fitness, which has locations throughout Northern Virginia.
They're also requiring reservations online, a digital check-in and only allowing people to workout for one hour, with plans to shut down for 30-minute cleaning periods throughout the day.
“Since 24 Hour Fitness made the difficult decision to close all our clubs nationwide on March 16, we have been carefully planning for the eventual reopening of some of our clubs as state and local governments and public health agencies indicate it is safe to do so. As we prepare for that moment, we are re-imagining the club experience which begins before club members leave their homes,” a 24 Hour Fitness spokesperson said.
Von Storch said he wants fitness centers to have more input in DC’s reopening plans. He’s focused primarily on the occupancy quota and wants more people allowed in larger spaces.
“One hundred people in a space that’s 5,000 square feet is a very different reality than one hundred people in a 50,000 square foot space. So, we’re trying to get the city to move away from that no more than X people to no more than X people per thousand square feet,” Von Storch explained.