Hitting the Gym in the Time of Coronavirus

Open-air exercising at Malibu Fitness

Now that the Los Angeles County Public Health Department has allowed the reopening of gyms and fitness studios, local gym owners are preparing to welcome back loyal clients.

“At this time, our main concern is for members’ safety,” Gordon Schwartz of Malibu Health stated. The private club on Pacific Coast Highway is easing into reopening. 

“We’re starting with a very limited capacity with no more than eight people at a time in an 8,000-square-foot facility. That’s a lot of space for everybody,” Schwartz said. Reservations are suggested to guarantee a spot. Temperature checks are taken before guests enter. Masks are recommended, but not required during a vigorous workout. The locker rooms are not open yet and there are no group classes. 

“The protocol for cleaning is every hour,” Schwartz added. “There are Purell stations and bleach wipes for members to use.” Schwartz said members were grateful to return after being “cooped up for too long. 

“There are people who can’t thank us enough for finally doing this,” he said. 

On the other side of town at Malibu Fitness, manager Michael Galate explained, “We’re limiting the numbers of people in the gym to 15 per hour. 

“We’re cleaning machines [and] bathrooms [and] wiping down surfaces each hour,” Galate said. “Upon entry, we’re requiring a face mask. We’re encouraging gloves and we have a contact-free temperature scanner. We created a touch free check-in and online reservations.” 

Half of cardio machines are out of service (alternating every other machine) to allow more space between patrons. Some equipment has been moved outdoors. 

“We’re keeping our doors wide open,” Galate said. “We’re keeping the fans on so we have fresh ocean air circulating. We’re trying to stay as clean as possible. We have a COVID-19 release form. You have to sign a waiver disclosing that you haven’t been on a plane or been traveling internationally or sick or in contact with anyone who’s been sick or exposed.” Classes are available with participants spaced more than six feet apart. Masks are required, but there’s flexibility. 

“We’re not going to have you suffer if you can’t breathe, but mask is required for entry,” Galate explained. Speaking about the reopening, Galate added, “Most people have had a comforting reaction. We want people to feel safe coming back and know we take it seriously. We’ve always been a hub for the community to come, work out, sweat. It’s a social scene as well. For some people, it’s a big part of their routine. It feels good to reopen and happily receive people we’ve missed.”

In Cross Creek, JAM Malibu studio remains closed despite relaxed health regulations that would allow it to reopen. While coronavirus is still a public health threat, JAM owner Neda Soderqvist said she was taking every precaution. 

“I don’t feel comfortable yet,” Soderqvist said. “I’m taking quarantine very seriously. It’s been a big loss for my business. I still have to pay rent.” The popular celebrity trainer said of her dance studio, “It’s more than a workout. It’s a community, but I do not want people wearing masks working out. It’s just not right.” Soderqvist gives classes online through her app that she offered free for the first two-and-a-half months of stay-at-home orders. 

Yoga studio 5 Point Yoga in the Malibu Country Mart reopened this week. “Our studio will be a little different,” its website stated. “We will have a limited schedule, limited attendance and we will follow the LA County guidelines to make sure our studio is a safe space to practice and help us move through these times with grace.”

Soul Cycle remained closed until further notice. Crossfit Malibu did not return calls for comment.