One of the most unique aspects of the Austin community is our ability to adapt and take any situation in stride. When COVID-19 took away our gyms, we resorted to at-home fitness and spent more time outside (safely). However, gyms and studios are slowly beginning to open their doors again — taking many safe precautions.
After closing a few days before Austin’s official stay-at-home order, Castle Hill Fitness moved to an online platform, utilizing video-streaming services to hold classes virtually.
“We jumped on the Zoom bandwagon with all the rest of the world,” marketing and brand manager of Castle Hill Fitness, Amy Rogers, says.
Recognizing that the pandemic was going to force gyms to make serious and long-term changes, Rogers says Castle Hill Fitness has invested in a few necessary adaptations for the gym to be as secure and disinfected as possible.
“We’re reconstructing barriers, not just putting signs on every other machine,” Rogers says.
In addition to limiting their hours and requiring members and employees to wear masks, Rogers says they are building a new way for members to continue their fitness safely — with individual workout pods.
“We’re constructing what we’re calling ‘Personal Workout Pods,’ where we’ve got 8-foot plywood and plexiglass walls that are dividing each of the spaces,” Rogers says. “Each of them has their own disinfectant equipment, and we’ll have an air filtration system built right into the space.”
Each of their individual workout pods are going to be available for booking online through their user-friendly website by members and personal trainers by the hour, Rogers says.
This special adaptation will limit the number of spaces and areas in the gym people will be going to, Rogers says.
“We’ve even purchased two heavy-duty foggers,” Rogers says. “They’re disinfectant foggers that we will use nightly to disinfect the entire building in one shot — in addition to the regular disinfecting that will happen after every appointment that comes into one of those pods.”
Since virtual classes have been a success, Rogers says they will be continuing to offer virtual fitness classes online even after their reopening in mid-June for those who have enjoyed the convenience, or if they are not yet comfortable with coming in.
Implementing three different sets of protocols for their staff, studio and riders, Love Cycling Studio, at the time of press, has planned to reopen their doors again on May 25.
“We also are requiring employee temperature checks before coming into the studio for your shift. If you are an instructor, you will have mandated temperature checks prior to coming into the studio to teach your class. If you are a front desk employee, you will have mandated temperature checks prior to checking in for your shift and during shifts,” Love Cycling Studio owner Stephanie Kincheloe says.
As for sanitation, Love Cycling Studio will be implementing a pre-opening sanitation process, during- and post-class sanitation process and closing sanitation process. During these cleanings, they will be wiping down the entire studio with an 80-percent or higher alcohol-based sanitizing spray, being sure to spray high-touch points such as studio benches, lockers, door knobs and more.
Similar to Castle Hill Fitness, Love Cycling Studio will also be using a fogger to clean. It will contain a medical-grade chemical that kills viruses with a seven-day efficacy, Kincheloe says.
“It has a 99.999-percent kill rate for the viruses listed, and one of them is COVID-19, and the ability to use the fogger means that we get into all the nooks and crannies and crevices that you’re not normally able to get to with just a wipe-down,” Kincheloe says.
An appealing aspect of their new, medical-grade chemical fogger is that it is odorless and dries quickly, which will provide a layer of protection, Kincheloe says.
“My belief is there is never a guarantee that any entity can provide to the public that we’re 100-percent safe, because we only know what we’ve been provided in terms of information, right? So, there’s never a guarantee,” Kincheloe says. “But I do feel like we have an obligation as a facility where people from the public will be coming in to provide the safest environment possible.”
Kincheloe says the studio is going to do their best to exceed mandated standards, but they are also looking to their community to be personally responsible to support these necessary protocols and continue being good neighbors.
“I’m very positive that we are going to survive and come back stronger than ever,” Kincheloe says. “But it would not be possible without our community and our team.”