Masks, temperature checks, and strict sanitizing procedures are the new normal as gyms and fitness facilities reopen across Utah after the coronavirus shutdown. Rob Dunfield, owner of Holladay Health & Fitness, says about his reopening, “It has been great. Eighty percent have come back and want to get right back into it.”
When Dunfield was forced to close the doors of his private personal training center on the east bench of the Salt Lake Valley, on March 13, 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic he was already wearing a mask and sanitizing equipment between clients. With most of his clientele over 60, the health and safety of his clients had been his top priority. He took precautions early as he watched the coronavirus spread across the U.S.
“It seemed overkill to have to close. The mandate didn’t take into account how many people are in our gym and how we operate,” he said. Unlike large workout facilities where social distancing and strict hygiene may be difficult to monitor, his facility typically only has from one to six people at a time spread out across two-floors and 6,000 square feet. He contacted the health department to see if he could stay open if he limited the number of people in his gym at one time or reduced services to private one-on-one sessions, but was told sorry, he had to close.
He spent the closure period doing a little in-home personal training, working on his other business endeavors, and just waiting to see how serious this situation would become. He also saw a huge surge in interest in his gym during the closure period. Gyms were closed and people were frustrated about not being able to work out. They thought they could maybe use his gym on the side, but he had to say no. He could not have anyone at his gym.
Since opening May 4, 2020, Dunfield is confident he can operate safely during the pandemic and he’s aiming to be “cleaner than a surgical center.” All trainers must wear masks and clients are encouraged to wear one too, although he recognizes it can be challenging to wear a mask while exercising. All equipment will be fully sanitized after each use and he recently purchased a disinfectant fogger to deep clean each night. Staff will also have temperatures checked daily and logged into a log book required by Salt Lake County.
He’s not sure how large fitness facilities are going to open and get back to the way things were and he’s hopeful that people will recognize the value of his type of facility right now. Dunfield says, “For people that could afford personal training services before, this now gives people added value because it is clean all the time and safe for me to be there.” He is optimistic that more people will be likely to pay for personal training now than before the pandemic.
“If our clients feel safe, they’ll feel anxious to get back to life and that is what we are trying to do,” says Dunfield.