October 25, 2021

Gyms, fitness centers in Cortland seeing participation rise

Colin Spencer/staff reporter

Janine Franco, owner of Vine Health and Fitness in Cortland, wipes down a machine Monday. The state announced last week that indoor fitness classes could resume at reduced capacity, and gyms are seeing participation increases as people look to get fit.

By being able to accommodate up to 300 people in its multipurpose room for fitness classes, the YWCA in Cortland hasn’t had to worry about social distancing and allowing for fitness classes since October, said Meryl Fish, the health and fitness director at the YWCA.

“It was easy for us to accommodate for social distancing,” she said Monday.

While Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced last week that indoor fitness classes could resume statewide Monday at reduced capacity, gyms are seeing participation increase as more people look to get fit.

Cuomo said indoor fitness classes can be offered at 33% of full capacity with precautions such as health screening, participants providing contact information when they sign in. Additionally, classes should be scheduled with time in between to give gym employees time to clean and sanitize after each class.

These protocols have already been followed at gyms including Vine Health and Fitness on North Main Street in Cortland, said owner Janine Franco.

The gym, which offers cardio and toning classes on Wednesdays and Sundays, fitness classes for senior citizens on Thursdays and full-body fitness classes on Saturdays, has opened these classes to eight people per session, she said. Face masks, social distancing are required along with prohibiting sharing equipment in classes.

“People are feeling more comfortable and wanting to have that interaction with other people,” Franco said.

When her gym reopened in August after being closed for five months, Franco said the number of new signups for memberships was low. As more people have gotten vaccinated, signups have increased.

“People really are wanting to get healthy now as they took a long time off,” she said.

The YWCA has been seeing more members come back, too, Fish said.

The gym, which has offered aerobic, cardio and kickboxing fitness classes, among others, has been able to offer its classes to 18 to 20 people per class since it passed inspection and was given approval by the Cortland County Health Department in October, she said.

Fish said some members were initially hesitant to come back but as more became vaccinated, more started returning.

Fitness courses will return in April to the YMCA of Cortland County, said membership specialist Jamie Moretti. These will include yoga courses and Walk With Ease, a program designed to help people with arthritis stay active.

Like the YWCA and Vine, the YMCA has seen a recent increase in attendance.

“People are getting ready to get moving again after not moving for a long time” during the pandemic, Moretti said.

At the YWCA, more changes could mean the return of karate, gymnastics and swimming lessons, but that all depends on state directives.

“We’re always on the move to bring back more programs,” Fish said. “We just want to do it in a safe manner.”