Local Fitness Centers Help People Stay Active Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

By: Carly Truett, Writer / Follow South Jersey Public Health Intern

Photo: Jon Bradley | Follow South Jersey

BRIDGETON, N.J. — As gyms await reopening orders in New Jersey, local fitness centers have gotten creative in their offerings to the community.

Currently, gyms are allowed to operate outdoors as long as social distancing guidelines can be followed. Indoor spaces must remain closed with the exception of restroom facilities and personal training for individuals and their families, romantic partners, or caretakers. Additional sanitation and safety practices are required — including limits on shared equipment, frequent sanitation of high-touch areas, and providing face masks and gloves to employees.

While fitness centers await a reopening date, many are preparing for anticipated guidelines by ordering additional wipes, cleaners, and designing signage. The protocols gyms will be expected to follow have not yet been released, but gym owners can look at rules implemented by other states for some direction. Philadelphia gyms have reopened with an array of restrictions: limitations on capacity, requiring members to wear masks at all times, roping off equipment closer than 6 feet apart, and health screenings for employees, among other directives.

MaxxFit Health Center in Bridgeton is also preparing for reopening by making sure equipment is properly spaced, removing equipment as necessary to ensure safe distancing, and stocking up on sanitizing materials. Rocco Jiannone, co-owner of the fitness center, feels confident that the 16,000 square foot facility could adequately follow safety protocols and that members would also comply.

“I don’t think any of our members would complain about wearing a mask,” Jiannone stated, “if that was the difference between coming to the place and not coming at all.”

Personal training is not an economically viable option for MaxxFit, according to Jiannone. The outdoor classes and virtual workouts that the gym has offered have been for community engagement rather than generating revenue. Jiannone reports that gyms have approached state representatives with potential protocols that would allow them to reopen safely. However, he’s frustrated with the lack of response and guidance from the state on the topic.

The YMCA of Vineland has prepared a webpage to keep members updated on reopening procedures. Members can expect to have their temperature checked and complete a health screening when entering the building, wear a face mask, and socially distance throughout the facility. Water fountains will be turned off and locker rooms open only for those who have pool lane reservations. The YMCA has already prepared additional sanitizing stations, signage, and floor decals despite not having a reopening date for indoor operations.

In the interim, gyms are getting creative to keep their members and the community engaged. Some are offering outdoor classes in their parking lots or other outdoor areas. Many are offering online group exercise classes through Facebook or YouTube, or more interactive live classes via Zoom. Below are opportunities provided by South Jersey fitness centers:

Cumberland County

MaxxFit – Bridgeton: Outdoor classes 1-3x/week, $5-10/class
YMCA – Vineland: Outdoor classes and pool lane reservations, members only
Peace Love Yoga – Vineland: Outdoor and virtual yoga classes, $8/class

Atlantic County

Retro Fitness – Egg Harbor Township: Daily workouts on Facebook Live, free

Camden County

Upcycle – Collingswood: Outdoor spin, yoga, barre, $15/class | Live stream, $10/class | On demand library of spin, yoga, barre, meditation, HIIT, $30/mo 
Royal Fitness – Barrington: Outdoor Zumba, yoga, pool, and other classes, $54/mo membership | Youtube classes, free | Live stream classes

Cape May County

Cape May Yoga – Cape May: Outdoor yoga classes $15-25/class
Miracles Fitness – Rio Grande: Zoom classes and video library, $39/mo

Gloucester County

Kennedy Fitness – Mullica Hill: Kickboxing, barre, pilates and more on Facebook Live, free

This article was produced by a Follow South Jersey news intern thanks to a grant provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation through the New Jersey Health Initiatives program to create hyper-local news to meet the informational and health needs of the City of Bridgeton, N.J.