Governor Ron DeSantis announced Friday afternoon that he would be moving into a “full Phase One,” reopening to include 50 percent indoor capacity for retail, restaurants, libraries and museums, and the reopening of gyms and fitness centers effective Monday, May 18.
Local gym owner Lindsay Alvestad of CrossFit9 shared her thoughts on reopening with the St. Pete Catalyst.
“We’re obviously really excited to get open and see our members again, but we’re going to be very thoughtful as to the execution of how we do so,” she said. “Every person has different comfort levels being in a public place again after all of this, and we definitely have that in mind as we’re moving forward.”
Today’s announcement follows the governor’s May 4 reopening of salons and barbershops, and the previously allowed 25 percent capacity reopening of retail and restaurants announced in late April.
Of the increased capacity for retail, DeSantis said that little would change. “Look, we were doing retail in some form this whole time. You had Home Depot, Walmart, all of these places open. There’s not a whole lot of difference to me between going into Home Depot and going into Jo-Ann Fabric, or some of these other places.
“Particularly for our smaller mom and pop retailers, it’s going to be important for them to have safe options for customers.”
As for gyms, DeSantis said they will be allowed to operate while respecting social distancing. He did not specify what capacity the state would allow.
“For some of these places like CrossFit that do outdoor training, that’s great,” DeSantis said. “Again, there’s a lower risk environment outdoor than inside a stuffy room in a gym somewhere where you’re going to be potentially exposed to respiratory droplets.”
Alvestad said that in accordance with DeSantis’ recommendations, CrossFit9, which is located in St. Petersburg’s Warehouse Arts District, would be operating outdoors as much as possible.
“I think it was really telling that Governor DeSantis name dropped CrossFit specifically,” Alvestad said. “Because our style of training really can be done just about anywhere. We will be making full use of parking lots, parks, and other wide-open spaces. We’re also very lucky that we work out in an open air warehouse with great ventilation, where people can really spread out.”
The governor, who emphasized that machines and surfaces should be cleaned and sanitized between uses, explained that people should have access to gyms particularly now, given the nature of Covid-19.
“This is a respiratory virus that tends to attack people who have some health problems and who aren’t in as good physical condition,” he said. “Don’t we want people to get exercise, to stay in shape?”
Further extra precautions will also be taken to mitigate the threat of the virus for CrossFit9’s athletes, Alvestad explained. The gym will implement caps on class sizes in accordance with state and local government guidelines, coaches will be required to wear masks, and coaches and athletes alike will be required to have their temperature taken at the door. Alvestad also said that the gym will require hand washing upon entering, clean all equipment between uses and prohibit equipment sharing. Thankfully, Alvestad explained, the gym has enough equipment that there is no need to share.
But Alvestad said that CrossFit9 will not leave its members who are not yet comfortable coming into the gym hanging. CrossFit9 implemented a full online schedule through its closure, providing five classes per day to athletes via Zoom. It also recently began socially distanced park workouts for members.
“Our schedule is going to include some form of digital option going forward,” Alvestad said. “Because we know that we do have members who are older and/or immuno-compromised.”
CrossFit gyms are known for the sense of community they create, and like other businesses, Alvestad said she is looking forward to reopening CrossFit9’s doors, but she does so with a keen sense of responsibility.
“Every step that we take forward from here is going to be to ensure that our members are as safe as possible as we reopen,” she said. “They’re gung-ho to get back into the gym but we also want to make sure that we do so thoughtfully. The fear of someone getting sick at our place of business is a thought that keeps most business owners I know up at night.
“We’re taking this very seriously, especially as gym owners,” Alvestad explained. “We’re here to help people be healthy. At the end of the day, that’s our goal.”
[Disclaimer: St. Pete Catalyst Managing Editor Megan Holmes is also a part-time employee of CrossFit9.]