December 1, 2021

Local gyms to reopen after state unveils guidelines

S.N. Briere/ staff reporter

Janine Franco, owner of Vine Health and Fitness at 20 N. Main St., Cortland, places a social distancing sticker on the floor of the gym. Franco said the gym is all ready to open Monday.

The equipment has been sanitized, the air system is set up and all that’s really left to do is putting signs throughout the gym at Vine Health and Fitness before the gym can open Monday, owner Janine Franco said Monday afternoon.

“We’re ready to go,” Franco said.

Franco, like many gym owners across the county, has been waiting for the news of when they can reopen since closing in March due to the coronavirus. On Monday, they finally got the date and guidelines to follow from Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Gyms can reopen beginning Monday, or localities can delay reopening until Sept. 2 to give local health departments the ability to prepare to inspect places.

“We are awaiting further information from the state that will provide details to the governor’s expectations,” said Lisa Perfetti, the Cortland County interim health director, in an email Monday. “Local health departments do not routinely regulate gym facilities. We hope to receive guidance soon explaining the gym reopening guidance as well as which agency will be responsible for inspections.”

But it’s too late for some facilities. Anytime Fitness on Route 281 in Cortlandville closed over the summer, although it’s unclear if it was because of the virus and Dana Murdock, owner and CEO of Seven Valley CrossFit called clients Thursday to let them know she was closing her business. She had said that the stress of waiting around to see when she could open wasn’t something she wanted to go through any longer. She could not be reached for comment regarding whether she would reopen after Cuomo’s announcement.

Franco said she is not worried about their air system because when the place was renovated the HVAC equipment was replaced. The company opened in October 2018. She also said they had originally planned to open at only 25% capacity or 22 people, at 33% capacity she can accommodate 29 people.

However, she said she might put the fitness center’s app to use and have people schedule times to use the gym so she can ensure the facility meets capacity limits.

“I’d say we’re pretty prepared for the guidelines,” said Noah Beck, the executive director of the Cortland County YMCA. All of the basic procedures in place, the agency was waiting to see what the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning requirements would be like before scheduling an opening day.

“It’s going to depend a lot on that,” he said.

Harold White, owner of Fitness Gap, located in the J.M. McDonald Sport Complex in Cortlandville, said he will call the county Health Department today to see when his facility can be inspected, so he can open Monday.

“We have a bunch of the guidelines in place now,” he said.

Reopening rules

New York state guidelines for a gym to reopen include:

  • A 33% occupancy limit.
  • People must sign in with contact information and health screening.
  • Masks are required at all times.
  • Six feet social distancing must be in place.
  • Disinfecting supplies must be available to all customers. Shared equipment must be cleaned after every use and staff must be able to disinfect equipment between each use.
  • Classes must be by appointment or reservation only, with social distancing and scheduled so equipment can be cleaned between uses.
  • Water bottle filling stations are allowed, but not shared water fountains.
  • Only individual shower stations can be used, and must be cleaned after each use.
  • Air systems must adopt American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers and Centers for Disease Control Prevention protocols, or have a system that operates at a MERV-13 or greater.
  • Local health departments must inspect facilities before they open or within two weeks of the facility opening.