LETTERS: Gyms are part of the solution — not problem — in combatting COVID-19

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Editor: As several counties across the state move to Level Red restrictions on Colorado’s COVID-19 dial, it is paramount we do everything possible to keep essential resources available to the community. And that should include local fitness facilities. Maintaining your mental, physical and social health is crucial in the fight against COVID-19. Local business owners in the fitness industry, like myself, are grateful our local and state leaders realize gyms are a part of the solution—not the problem—to this pandemic. The recent changes to the dial restrictions allowing gyms to continue their indoor operations, albeit at a much lower capacity, means we are still able to provide an essential service that will keep our members healthy. Now all Coloradans must do their part to support local businesses, including local fitness centers, and avoid mandatory closures should we face another Stay At Home Order. 

Wear your mask, practice physical distancing and avoid social gatherings. These are the three most important things we can do to slow the spread of the virus in our communities. The holidays are a typically stressful time, and the addition of these restrictions will make this season even more difficult. This year, prioritize exercise as a way to combat seasonal anxiety, depression and negative moods. Exercising releases endorphins that boost our mood and self-confidence and ward off feelings of depression and anxiety.

Evidence shows physical activity also strengthens the body’s immune system, improves cardiovascular health and is found to be a protective factor against COVID-19. This is significant as CDC has updated its list of individuals who are at high risk of severe complications from COVID-19 to include people who are merely overweight in addition to those who are obese.

As the owner of the Planet Fitness clubs in Aurora, I can confidently and wholeheartedly say Planet Fitness is going above and beyond to create the safest environment possible at all times and making access to exercise easier than ever. Planet Fitness provides an affordable way to prioritize your health with memberships for just $10 a month. Upon reopening early this summer, we have adhered to all local public health guidelines and have worked directly with our local leaders to create consistent rules and guidance for Colorado’s fitness industry. But Planet Fitness has surpassed the safety recommendations by implementing a touchless check-in process, featuring COVID-19 wellness questions for all members and guests, turbo-charging its sanitation protocols, requiring the use of facemasks at all times, providing socially distanced workout spaces and launching a new “crowd meter” feature on the Planet Fitness app that allows members to see just how busy your local fitness center is before coming in to workout. With local capacity ordinances constantly changing, this new crowd meter is extremely helpful for our members. They do not need to guess or worry about how many people are at the gym at any time. The crowd meter is updated in real time as members check-in, providing full visibility on the capacity at any given time.

Results from a recent nationwide survey conducted by the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) showed that of the folks who have returned to their fitness clubs, 88% of them are confident in the COVID-19 mitigation efforts by their clubs, and nearly 65% are using exercise to improve their mental health. With that in mind, it’s refreshing to see so many of our members back in the gym experiencing all the mental and physical benefits fitness has to offer. The safety protocols we’ve put in place at our facilities are allowing our members to keep their focus where it should be—using their workouts to get physically and mentally fit. I hope to welcome more members soon and celebrate their commitment to wellness as we all navigate the duration of this pandemic together. 

— Brett McGlothlin, via [email protected] 

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