Gyms Attempt to Navigate Rapidly Changing Landscape of Re-Opening Regulations
The COVID-climate for CrossFit boxes globally right now is unpredictable. While some states and territories are relaxing restrictions and allowing gyms to reopen, other affiliate owners are being forced to wait it out and lobby their government for an exemption while weighing the health and financial costs and benefits of either option.
(From a reporting standpoint, the situation isn’t just changing by the day — in some cases — it’s by the hour. At the Morning Chalk Up, we take pride in providing the most up to date information where possible, and thanks to thousands of CrossFitters who are part of our global community, here’s an update of what we’re hearing from those on the ground.)
In the United States: At the peak of the COVID-19 lockdown several weeks ago, 96% of the 6915 CrossFit affiliates in the US were closed. According to the New York Times, currently, 31 states are in some phase of easing restrictions and many more will be added to that list by mid-to-late May; however, state governors have placed gym re-opening at various stages or phases of their blueprints and plans.
In states where mandated closures remain in place, affiliates continue to petition governments to allow them to train in their facilities again, with strict protocols. Adding to the list of initiatives we’ve been closely monitoring:
- Kyle Stark, owner of Ft. Wright CrossFit in Kentucky has created a petition to convince the government CrossFit gyms “aren’t your typical gym” and should be able to reopen sooner.
- A letter to the Florida surgeon general has been signed by a growing number of local affiliates, while another petition has also been filed in Florida to allow small, independent gyms to be classified separately from large gyms and given their own timeline for reopening.
- Jake Naumcheff owns CrossFit Laminin in Vestavia Hills, Alabama and wrote an open letter to Governor Kay Ivey sharing how their facility “…is uniquely equipped to comply with the certain social distancing and sanitation protocols currently in place.”
Going it alone: CrossFit Trussville, also in the state of Alabama, resumed workouts for members on Monday, despite the state guidelines that “all gyms must be closed.”
- Owner Andrew Rape told the Morning Chalk Up: “We’ve been running classes at both of our locations since Monday, we have been outspoken and challenge people to let us know how we are breaking guidelines.”
- CrossFit Trussville is holding outdoor classes with limited equipment, Andrew also said they are taking extra measures to clean off the equipment between each class and ensuring members maintain social distancing.
- It comes after Mike Manning opened Harbor City Community Fitness in Melbourne, FL, despite Governor Ron DeSantis’ order for gyms to remain closed.
Here are a few developments from other parts of the world:
Affiliates in Hong Kong can reopen starting yesterday, having experienced more than 16 consecutive days without a single new coronavirus infection.
- There’s some pretty strict restrictions in place though which include wearing masks before and after exercise, no more than 8 people in the gym at one time, and maintaining a strict 1.5-meter distance from all other members.
Affiliates in New Zealand could be the next to reopen, the country’s government could move to downgrade restrictions as soon as Monday.
- Nicole Stowers owns +64 Fitness and said: “Our rate for confirmed COVID-19 cases is dropping and so we are hopeful…As soon as we move to Level 2 we are able to open. We feel confident that this will be next week, and if not, definitely the week after being Monday, May 18.”
- “We will continue to do everything we were pre-lockdown with regards to increased hygiene practices, wipe down of equipment after every class etc, but we have also designed a new program that is shorter than the typical 1 hour CrossFit class duration,” Nicole said.
- Classes will be 50 minutes, instead of 60 minutes to allow for equipment cleaning and ensure minimal crossover with members.
- New Zealand National Champion Luke Fiso also plans to put strict guidelines in place at his affiliate Instinct Fitness NZ: “Because we can track everyone coming in through our booking system and we know all our members we can almost go back to normal but cleaning and hygiene will be extremely important in those first few weeks back,” he said.
CrossFit Zeeburg in Amsterdam will also restart classes next week although the Dutch government has placed a ban on indoor sports until September, which has been met by resistance.
- Zeeburg head trainer Pawel Wlodarski told the Morning Chalk Up: “At my box we are already planning classes starting from next week in line with current rules. The industry wants to open the gyms even earlier but this is [yet] to be seen.”
In Australia: Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a three-step plan to lift restrictions, although each state and territory can decide when to proceed.
- Outdoor boot camps of up to 10 people will be allowed in most states beginning Saturday May 16.
- Gyms reopening will likely be included in “Step 2” which is likely to take effect beginning Saturday, June 13.