Tahoe gym owners ramp up efforts to create safe environments | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Tahoe gym owners ramp up efforts to create safe environments

Cheyanne Neuffer

Gyms around the Lake Tahoe Basin are implementing safety measures and doing whatever they can to stay open during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As anxiety from the virus continues to be present, many have chosen to workout from home or have decided to stick to exercising outdoors. Since March, many have not returned to their exercise routines. However, gyms have changed the way they operate, including outdoor classes and online instruction.

On July 13, Omni Yoga in South Lake Tahoe closed their doors, again. While owner Jessica Broyles was legally allowed to be open, she felt it was the best decision to keep the community and instructors safe.

“Luckily, we have a lovely partnership with Nate Riffle at The Hangar and we continue to offer socially distant classes in a really fabulous and private area,” Broyles said in an email. “We still ask that all guests pre-register as we are still limiting capacity, even outdoors, to minimize in person transactions and allow people to really feel comfortable.”

Broyles said that guests should expect to fill out a COVID-19 waiver, check their temperatures, wear masks as they arrive at the outdoor location. Of course, she urges guests not to show up if they show any signs of illness.

Omni has online options for yoga, yogalates, fitness classes and is also streaming classes live.

“We truly believe it is imperative to remain connected, healthy and active during this pandemic and clearly ask that everyone respect each other’s beliefs, space and individual process,” said Broyles. “Unity is so important today more than ever and I hope that coming together in a habitually healthy way will help us all through these trying times.”

Jason Burd and his wife Gabi Burd own High Altitude Fitness in North Lake Tahoe. They sent out a reopening strategy to members in late April and opened doors back up on May 30. They were closed for nearly 75 days.

“We were ready to open quite early and think we are just as safe to visit as any grocery or hardware store,” said Burd in an email. “I would argue we are even safer. They get thousands of people a day and we get at most 200 each day.”

High Altitude made several virus-related changes that follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines including sneeze guards, limited exercise machines, group class sizes are also limited and they even added sections to their climbing wall so people could maintain distance.

They also have a turnstile that limits access.

“This is the cleanest the gym has ever been,” said Sarah Moss co-owner of Sierra Athletic Club in South Lake Tahoe.

When Sierra Athletic Club reopened, they also implemented rigorous state guidelines to ensure the gym was clean and safe as possible for the community.

They were closed for 83 days and during those, the gym put a no-charge freeze on everyone’s membership. Moss said that more people are exercising outside and that while the coronavirus has affected the amount of people in the gym, this is somewhat normal for the summer months.

“People have altered their lives in the last three months,” she said. “This is the gym business in general.”

Moss said that it is still pretty quiet in the gym and she doesn’t see more than 10 people at once.

She said that while the gym has always been clean, they have put in place extra sanitation and distancing rules. They have moved some classes outdoors and distanced group spin classes.

“These are things people should have been doing the whole time,” she said. “It [Sierra Athletic Club] is a clean, safe place to be. It is the cleanest place I go these days.”

Escobar Training Grounds in South Lake Tahoe has been taking extra precautions as well to ensure safety since reopening. Being a martial arts gym, owner Cory Escobar said the gym has always been kept clean, but recently he has ramped up cleaning and sanitation.

Upon opening on June 15, he purchased a cold fog machine that sprays fog with hypochlorous acid, a natural disinfectant that works against the virus. The machine uses electrolyzed vinegar, salt and water to disinfect mats, equipment and hard to reach areas. He uses the fog machine along with mopping and sanitizing.

“A lot of work goes into deep cleaning the gym right now,” said Escobar. “If I can keep my family and the community safe, I will do whatever it takes.”

Escobar said about 75% of his customers have returned. He said that his gym is all about camaraderie and friendship so he has really missed his students.

“I would have liked to see everyone come back,” he said.

Escobar has even taken some of his classes outdoors to Regan Beach.

Fortunately, the gym has large garage doors that open which allow constant airflow. Escobar says that his customers who have returned feel comfortable because they see how the Escobar is going above and beyond to make sure the gym is safe.

The gym offers karate, kickboxing, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and boxing which Escobar says is incredibly important during this time for relieving stress.

He said many of his customers came back ready to train.

“This has affected everyone differently. Staying healthy physically and mentally is really important,” Escobar said. “This is a big community, let’s all support each other.”

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