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Daily Journal
     March 24, 2020      #27-84 KDJ

Local gyms close doors, offer online workout

By Stephanie Markham

While many gyms and fitness centers in the area have temporarily closed to limit the spread of coronavirus, those gyms with smaller memberships have been trying to keep their doors open as long as possible to serve members.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker issued an executive order requiring gyms and fitness centers to restrict their services to a maximum of 50 people at a time, effective Wednesday. Though the gyms could stay open by restricting the number of members using their facilities, many have decided to close.

James Jones, owner of Functional Fitness in Manteno, said he was able to continue running the usual workout schedule at his gym this past week, as classes are always small. Jones first opened the gym in January.

“We’re just being a little more cautious as far as cleaning, which is nothing out of the ordinary,” he said. “Everything is disinfected, and we’re not exceeding classes over 10 people at a time.”

Jones said some of his older members have been staying home over coronavirus concerns, but others have continued their regular workout routines. He has even had a few new clients come in from larger gyms that have had to close.

“We keep our gym classes small and intimate to give our clients undivided attention,” Jones said.

Constancy Fitness in Bradley also has been able to stay open as a small gym with limited membership, according to the gym’s website. The gym has has been sharing “Constancy At Home” workout videos on its Facebook page for those who haven’t been able to make it to their gyms.

Mike Neumann, owner of Fit Body U in Bourbonnais, said he at first intended to keep his gym open, as attendance does not exceed 50 people even on a busy Monday night. Since coronavirus concerns begin, he hired additional cleaning staff, purchased new disinfectant sprays and encouraged members to clean off machines before and after use — something he plans to continue after the spread of coronavirus is in the past.

“The world is changing,” he said. “From this point on, members of fitness centers are going to have a higher sense of awareness when it comes to cleanliness, so fitness centers are going to have to provide next-level cleaning services.”

Thursday night he posted on the gym’s Facebook page that he decided the situation calls for him to close, and he plans to reopen March 31.

“I know this doesn’t sit well with some of the gym rat diehards,” Neumann wrote. “I know because I was one of you once where my whole life revolved around my workouts, so I get it and I feel your pain. Since I’m closing down the gym, this should tell you how serious this is.”

He went on to write that he encourages patrons to spend the next couple weeks preparing healthy meals in their kitchens and prioritizing at-home ab workouts.

The Kankakee YMCA has postponed all youth and adult programs, fitness classes and sports, though it is still able to accommodate childcare services. Those registered for YMCA sports will have spots reserved when the programs resume, and some program fees will be fully or partially refunded.

Larger gyms in the area like Planet Fitness in Kankakee and Fitness Premier in Bourbonnais and Manteno have closed as well; the companies have been offering online fitness resources and at-home workout videos in the interim. According to a company statement, Fitness Premier is looking into ways to reimburse members for their lost gym time, such as adding time onto existing memberships or offering account credits.

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