Gyms in the Ozarks returning to normal as pandemic restrictions end
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - If you plan on hitting the gym, you may have noticed some changes around the facility. As COVID-19 cases decline, gyms begin to lift those pandemic restrictions.
When the pandemic hit in 2020, gyms made accommodations to help keep members safe. Some of these accommodations included spacing equipment six feet apart. Other protocols included reducing class sizes and requesting members to wear a mask while working out. Gyms lifted those restrictions. And gyms look like they did before the pandemic.
Leaders at the Ozarks Regional YMCA encourage members and staff to remain cautious to help prevent the spread of any disease.
“We’re really leaving it up to the discretion of the members to choose,” said Ozarks Regional YMCA CEO Kathryn Custer. “Do you want to work out right next to somebody or do you want to be a couple of machines over? Do you feel like the class is too crowded for you? Do you want to come to a different class? We have really gone back to a lot of the pre COVID protocols.”
Some protocols remain in place. Staff will clean equipment. Many offer online workouts for members. With cases on the decline and restrictions lifted, members are finding more enjoyment in working out.
“I definitely didn’t want to be wearing a mask trying to work out the entire time is very limiting,” said YMCA member Levi Ekstrom. “Obviously, you get pretty hot and start sweating. Not having to worry about restrictions is definitely a lot better.”
Relaxing COVID-19 restrictions helped alleviate some of the stress on staff.
“It feels hopeful and positive,” said Custer. “It helps us feel like we’re not in such a crisis mode anymore. I think people have yearned for that social interaction. And that sense of getting back to normal.”
Executives encourage members and staff to remain cautious to help prevent the spread of any disease. Supervisors say they have noticed more people coming in to work out but are also being cautious to help keep everyone safe and healthy.
“I think people are a little bit more intentional now about not coming in when they don’t feel good,” said Custer. “For our staff, if they’re not feeling well, we really urge them not to come in. Whereas maybe before people kind of felt like if they just had a cold, no problem, they’ll come in. So we’re very intentional about that.”
The YMCA has its online platform available to members if they can’t make it into the facility for workouts and classes. Custer says that she feels the organization has learned from the pandemic and is prepared to adapt if cases should rise again.
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