GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – More than a dozen YMCA members waited eagerly for the doors of Caine Halter Family YMCA to re-open for the first time in two months, since they closed March 17th to slow the spread of COVID-19.
It was one of many gyms, exercise centers and public or commercial pools that opened across South Carolina Monday in a limited capacity.
Hundreds of close contact businesses also re-opened Monday, including barber shops, hair salons, waxing salons, threading salons, nail salons and spas, body-art facilities and tattoo services, tanning salons, massage-therapy establishments and massage services.
Safety measures at the Caine Halter YMCA in Greenville include a temperature reading and being in good health before entry is allowed.
Masks are encouraged for members but not required, although staff is required to wear masks unless they are teaching classes.
Group classes will resume Wednesday, Monday 20, 2020 and members must sign up ahead of time, remain within 10×10 foot boxes and clean their equipment after each use. They must bring their own yoga mats when attending yoga classes and pool equipment such as kickboards and pool towels when exercising in the pool, which is limited to two swimmers per lane at a time.
Members must also bring their own water bottles. Drinking fountains are restricted.
In Greenville County, District Executive Director Brian Vest said the locations he oversees have been setting up these new changes and training for a week.
“There are no lockers, no showers, so people need to plan accordingly,” he said. “Come in, get your workout done and get out. Really, we’ve tried to space things out as much as we can, maximize the facility and have access to all the things they need without encroaching on others’ space”
The state’s Acceleratesc advisory team and the state Department of Health and Human Services put guidelines together that helped guide these new procedures at YMCA, along with all other gyms and close contact businesses in South Carolina.
The “Response” component of accelerateSC, with advice and recommendations from the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), developed general guidelines for close contact service providers, along with specific guidelines for cosmetology establishments, gyms and fitness centers, and public or commercial pools.
These guidelines include, but are not limited to the following:
- Guidance on social distancing within businesses, including recommended capacity requirements
- Additional cleaning and sanitizing guidelines for equipment, tables, chairs, etc.
- Additional guidance on health checks for employees
- Additional guidance on training for employees
Gyms and fitness centers in South Carolina have been given industry specific safety guidelines if they choosing to re-open amidst the Coronavirus crisis, which are voluntary but strongly encouraged.
Some of the restrictions under the guidelines for gyms include:
-No basketball (no pick up, shoot around or team play).
● No pickleball or racquetball (no pick up, reserved play, or scheduled programming)
● Locker rooms will be open, but showers will not be available. Social distancing will be required.
● No towel service – members may bring & leave with their own towels.
● Coffee & other refreshments will not be available at this time.
● Water fountains are for use ONLY to fill water bottles, no drinking directly from the fountain.
● No use of saunas or steam rooms, as a minimum safe distance of 6 feet cannot be maintained.
● Only every other piece of cardio equipment will be available for use.
● Members must disinfect equipment before and after use
Bon Secours exercise specialist Belinda Brooks has been working with cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation patients at the facility Healthy Self for about a week, where masks are mandated for patients during exercise.
She says most healthy people should be all right to exercise with a mask on if they choose to, and even those at risk have generally been able to exercise with a mask without trouble.
Brooks said it is always a good idea to check with your doctor before exercising with a mask, especially if you have trouble breathing normally, and says to make sure your mask fits properly.
“What we’ve seen in general here is, for those individuals that are exerting themselves more and are getting hotter, that mask almost adheres to their faces as they’re sweating,” she said. “So one of the things I would caution them is to make sure the mask isn’t too hot fitting. (As) they perspire, it gets hotter and it really does begin to reduce that airflow.”