As Gov. John Bel Edwards partially reopens the state in phases, he has made provisions for fitness centers to open at a reduced capacity. And while gyms around the parish are bustling, two fitness center owners said it has become apparent that physical fitness is not their members’ only motivation to break a sweat.
Michelle Oubre, owner at Anytime Fitness in Destrehan, opened the doors to her facility on May 26.
“I’m super excited,” she said. “We’re promoting social distancing and in all of our studios we have x’s marked on the floors.”
Ten people will be allowed in each of the gym’s three class studios, and Oubre said the capacity of the entire center will also be closely monitored.
“We’re following all the safety protocols set by the state and cleaning every hour,” she said, adding employees will be wearing masks.
While the gym was closed, Oubre said her staff members spent time calling members to check up on them.
“We’re all hardwired for connection and movement the majority of the people we talked to are so ready to come back in,” she said, adding quarantine highlighted for many members how much of a role exercise and movement play in maintaining their good moods and temperaments.
“We’ve been open eight years here and we have a very tight knit group of members and a lot of relationships have developed here,” she said. “They miss exercise, but they also miss each other.”
While she could have opened earlier, Oubre said she wanted to take her time to ensure both her employees’ and members’ safety.
“It’s almost like we’ve had to create a whole new business program,” she said of the operation of the facility.
Oubre said the facility will take baby steps into fully re-opening. Until then, she said outdoor and online classes will continue to be held.
Brandi LeBlanc, owner of nDurance Fitness in Destrehan, said re-opening on May 15 meant so much to her, her staff and her members.
“You miss those one-on-one intimate conversations,” she said.
LeBlanc said her gym is stocked with hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies, although acquiring the needed cleaning supplies took some creativity because the normal products they use can’t be found.
“We need normalcy,” she said. “It’s not just about physical well-being, but mental well-being … we had Zoom classes while we were out, but it’s just not the same … people just want to be with other people.”
Her facility’s 4-acre campus will allow for plenty of outdoor workouts, and LeBlanc as long as there is a need she will continue to offer Zoom classes for people who are at a higher risk of catching coronavirus, or for those just not ready to come back to the gym.
Beth Creed, an nDurance member, said she is grateful for the normalcy the gym re-opening has brought.
“I come to the gym very early in the morning … I need to come to the gym and get away from it all and just concentrate on my physical well-being and my mental well-being as well,” she said.