It’s hard to think back to those New Year’s resolutions you might have made, which led you to the steps of a nearby fitness center or exercise studio. Once mid-March came around and the doors shuttered due to the global pandemic, all hopes of sweating on the stairclimber, joining a yoga class or lifting weights in person were gone.
But on Friday, May 29, as Northern Virginia enters phase one of the “Forward Virginia” plan set in place by Gov. Ralph Northam, local fitness centers will be able to open, but only in outdoor spaces, and following strict physical distancing and disinfecting guidelines.
Here, we broke down what rules and restrictions the fitness centers must follow as guided by the state, as well as best practices for staff and guests, during the phase one reopening. If your go-to fitness center of choice is not offering outdoor services, you can still find great virtual workouts from local studios here.
Starting at midnight on Friday, May 29, fitness centers will only be allowed to offer outdoor services to patrons, and all indoor facilities must remain closed through the remainder of phase one. Outdoors, facilities must have all fitness equipment at least 10 feet apart, encouraging physical distancing between guests and staff members.
Following the guidelines for limiting large group gatherings, outdoor classes and programs may have no more than 10 participants at a time, and instructors must stay physically distant from the participants at all times. Hand-sanitation stations are required at both entrance/exits, and staff members must disinfect all equipment between uses.
Equipment that requires the use of two or more participants is prohibited, unless both users come from the same household (example: free weights that require a spotter). And until further notice, all hot tubs, splash pads, spray pools, interactive play features, basketball courts, racquetball courts and all leisure seating areas must be closed. Outdoor pools are permitted for lap swimming only, with one person per lane. Indoor swimming pools are required to stay closed.
As for best practices, all guests, participants and staff members are encouraged to follow Gov. Ralph Northam’s requirement of face coverings in public spaces, and disposable linens, such as cleaning wipes and towels, should be used rather than reusable cloths.
Exercising in a group setting is going to look different for quite awhile, but stay tuned to your nearest fitness centers to see how they are planning to address phase one reopening and follow best practices for members. Phase two and its requirements have not yet been announced by Virginia’s administration.