Gyms in Okemos exercise right to open

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Gyms take new measures

As Okemos residents and nearby college students dive into school and work, they are able to nurture their physical and mental health with workouts outside of their homes.

Powerhouse Gym Okemos employee Katie Boncore said the gym is taking a multitude of precautions to remain COVID-safe.

“The gym is currently enforcing the six feet social distancing rules with every other cardio machine turned off, markers on the floor and all machines distanced,” Boncore said.

There are sanitation stations set up very frequently in the gym — these include hand sanitizers, buckets of wipes, spray bottles and towels. On top of that, Boncore said the gym is enforcing the governor’s mask mandate, along with the 25% capacity rules.

These special conditions allow patrons to re-enter the recreational side of society, but gyms do not look exactly as they did before the pandemic. Boncore said that although Powerhouse sees quite a few people every day, there are significantly less students signing up.

Powerhouse Gym Okemos was able to reopen with new COVID-safe guidelines.

Photo taken by Kamryn Romano

“Hundreds of students are cancelling their memberships due to fear of COVID,” Boncore said. “There are less ‘busy’ hours, meaning people come in more spread out — which I am guessing is due to classes moving online.”

Exercising opportunities to get out

While many students in the Okemos stayed in their respective hometowns this semester, some moved to off-campus housing. Michigan State senior Tamara Alak has been working out at Crunch Fitness ever since it opened for the first time last September. 

“I feel safe and clean while at my gym in Okemos,” Alak said. “Everyone keeps their mask on, respects the space of others, and most wipe down equipment after each use, but I wipe it before as well just to be safe.”

Bearing new weights

Alak is balancing getting exercise with having to wear a mask in the process, making decisions about what makes her most comfortable in these uncertain times.

“It is a little more difficult to breathe while wearing the mask in the gym just because airflow is restricted, especially during cardio workouts,” Alak said. “I worry about my intake of CO2 because of excessive breathing while wearing the mask, but I am especially grateful that gyms are open again.”

Many people have adapted to working out at home by using online resources, equipment they purchase or no equipment at all. Michigan State senior and Okemos resident Lauren Giese prefers exercise options that can be done safely and affordably at home. 

“Even though the gym I belonged to opened back up, I would rather use the resources I adapted to during the stay-at-home order,” Giese said. “It allows me to keep myself active without needing to wear a mask.”

Exercising the body and the mind

For some, working out is just as important for mental health as it is physical. The closing of gyms meant more than finding new ways to stay physically active. Powerhouse employee Boncore stressed the positive role gyms play in the daily lives of many. 

“I think it is way better for society, our health, our immune systems and mental health to have the gyms open,” Boncore said. “I personally think that closing the gyms for longer than two months was absolutely counterproductive.”

Boncore explained that because COVID-19 is a virus that attacks the immune system, developing good health and a strong immune system is key to fighting it.

“We attempted to open in June, and got shut down 10 days later, but so many people thanked us for opening because they needed the outlet,” Boncore said. “That’s what gyms are, and they make society a better place in the long run.”