Miami-Dade gyms manage to stay open, but there is plenty of caution — and fear

After barely escaping an order from Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez to close on Wednesday, gyms opened with new requirements.

There will be extra spacing — more than six feet — and masks required in some situations.

Even before this week’s announcement, Florida officials restricted gyms to half capacity and ordered them to keep customers six feet apart from each other. This has raised a lot of questions, such as who is going to make sure people are following regulations. Equipment such as treadmills are lined up next to each other, leading some gyms to change their layouts to make it easier for their patrons to avoid each other.

Other concerns are shared locker rooms and water fountains. Some have been closed. Some also require people to bring their own water. Numbers are down at many gyms as well.

Raul Alvarez, a member at the UFC gym in Kendall, returned immediately after it reopened. It offers martial arts in classes, but they are only technique, rather than contact, a spokesperson said Thursday morning.

“The gym is taking everyone’s temperatures before we walk into the gym and they are making everyone enter the gym with masks on,” said Alvarez. “The clients are also required to bring a personal towel and sanitize every machine after they finish using it.”

Alvarez believes that his gym is taking the proper precautions to avoid spreading the coronavirus and the new policies don’t interfere with his workouts for the most part.

“I’ve seen people maintaining distance from each other and following the rules,” said Alvarez. “I still get to work out with speed and intensity, I only have a problem when I go to the treadmills since some of them are closed.”

Alvarez also takes his own personal measures to lower the chances of catching the coronavirus at the gym.

“I carry my own hand sanitizer with me around the gym just to be safe,” he said.

Armando Diaz is a college student and Planet Fitness member. Throughout the quarantine, he has trained in his garage and has jogged at parks and on sidewalks.

“I mainly don’t want to increase my risk of getting coronavirus,” said Diaz. “Especially because of the type of environment a gym is, you’re likely to get exposed to someone else’s sweat. You’re also sharing a building with people for a prolonged period of time.”

Diaz feels the new policies are fair but says they don’t completely eliminate the risk of contracting the coronavirus.

“Personally I feel like gyms are reopening too soon, but I understand from an economic standpoint why they’re doing it,” said Diaz. “The new rules are solid. I just don’t want to risk getting COVID.”

Chris Rondeau, the CEO of Planet Fitness, released a video statement about what changes they would be making to the chain gyms.

“There will be even more cleaning stations throughout the club, stocked with disinfectant spray,” Rondeau said. “We’ll also be offering ‘touchless check-in’ on the Planet Fitness app to reduce touchpoints between our staff and members.”

Elio Díaz is a Cuban-American journalism student who is pursuing a career in sports journalism and commentating. Díaz has a background in mixed martial arts and hopes to use that experience to better relate to and interview combat athletes