For those who frequently exercise to keep their bodies in peak physical condition, routine can be key. So while the COVID-19 outbreak put a halt to the usual training regimens, gym junkies can now breathe a sigh of relief, as exercise facilities and sporting venues were allowed to reopen Friday.

At Aerofit Healthclub, owner Russ Warner said some members were eager to return, while others remain cautious.

"We've had a lot that were ready to come back," he said. "They didn't want us to shut down in the beginning, but of course, I didn't have an option. Then we've had a lot of people who are kind of holding back and saying, 'We're going to wait a few weeks and see how all of this progresses.'"

Work-out facilities are open, but with some caveats. Members returning to Aerofit get a rundown of new safety measures when they enter the building. For example, every other cardio machine has been turned off, and all the equipment and machines have been separated to allow for social distancing. Members are provided spray and towels to clean equipment before they use it.

The gym is also recommending that members wear masks, although it can make working out more difficult.

"We're not allowing circuit training, so you can't go from machine to machine to machine, and then start back over," said Warner. "So you've got to do all of your sets on one machine. When you're finished, we're asking everyone to just use the spray on all of the hard, contact surfaces and just let it sit, because the longer it sits, the more effective the kill rate is."

Warner said his members have complied with all the new policies, and that he's been "super appreciative" of all his customers who have continued to pay their regular membership fees. So far, the gym hasn't become too crowded to allow for social distancing.

"If it gets to the point where people are grouping up and crowding on top of each other, then we'll probably have to limit it," said Warner. "But we have a pretty big facility, so we should be OK."

Anytime Fitness has also started welcoming members back.

Manager Vanisa Ross said fitness buffs were thrilled to return to the facility, and she's even had some new members sign up.

"The first day on Friday, everyone was so excited," she said. "I figured it will be like New Year's Eve and it will die back out."

The Anytime Fitness staff has rearranged the equipment to provide social distancing for their members. Also during this time, the club is not accepting guests or providing free trials.

"We have a 10-member at one time, maximum," said Ross.

"We rarely run into that problem. All of the equipment is spaced out so you're socially distant. All the proper signs are up as far as social distancing and cleaning. We have the gym wipes with the virucide for equipment wiping, and we have hand sanitizer."

Not every exercise facility and gym in Tahlequah has reopened, though. Northeastern State University's RiverHawks Wellness Center, also known as The Fit, is planning to open its doors May 26.

"However, this date may change due to having enough staff available to reopen the facility safely," said Dan Mabery, vice president of university relations. "When the RiverHawks Wellness Center opens, there will be restrictions that limit the number of people who can safely use the facility at one time. There has been no decision as to when the pool will be able to open yet."

The Cherokee Nation's Male Seminary Recreation Center is also still closed. No plan to reopen has been announced at this time.


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