October 23, 2021

Local gyms reopen after COVID layoff

S.N. Briere/staff reporter

Harold White, the owner of The Fitness Gap gym located inside the J.M. McDonald Sports Complex, wipes down treadmills Monday, when gyms were finally able to reopen after being shut down because of the coronavirus.

Taylor Helms of Cortland grabbed the bar of the Smith machine Monday morning at The Fitness Gap gym in Cortlandville and slowly began bending her knees as if she were going to sit in a chair.

It was leg day for Helms, who was all ready for the first day of gyms reopening since shutting down last winter because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“If this is what I got to do to have the gyms stay open, then I’ll do it, it’s no big deal,” she said about wearing the mask and making sure the equipment was disinfected.

For Helms, the gym wasn’t just about staying in shape but a good way to release stress.

“It really helped my mental health,” she said.

Harold White, owner of the gym, located inside the J.M. McDonald Sports Complex Center, said the reopening day was good so far. The gym opened at 5 a.m., more than 100 days after it was forced to close.

He said he was pleasantly surprised by the number of people coming to use the facility and happy everyone was following the guidelines.

“I say clean before, during and after,” he said, later pulling out a cloth and spray to wipe down equipment frequently throughout the gym.

Teon Sandiford of Cortland was ecstatic to be back in the gym — getting in a full-body workout that left him drenched in sweat.

“It’s imperative to stay in shape for your well-being,” he said, noting he did a lot of running and home workouts while gyms were closed.

He said he isn’t concerned about being back in the gym either because the facility is kept clean, and wearing the mask wasn’t so bad.

“It’s a little suffocating, but you get used to it,” he said.

The YWCA hasn’t announced a reopening date, but Executive Director Kelly Tobin said in an email this morning that a new heating, ventilation and air conditioning system was installed and the required filters by the state are being upgraded.

“We are excited to welcome members back into the building soon,” she said.

The YMCA announced via its Facebook page that it would open Sept. 8. In an email, Membership and Marketing Director Margo Upson said the delay is so the facility can make sure it has all the guidelines ready to go for when people do begin using the facility — that and the organization needed to finish a large paint job it was in the middle of when word came of reopening.

“We’d rather take a little extra time and be over-prepared than try to rush things and put our members or staff in a potentially dangerous position,” she said in the email. “The wait also gives us time to communicate our new hours and procedures with our membership and staff so that, when the 8th arrives, we’re all on the same page.”