While gyms and fitness centers weren’t the first businesses to reopen under orders of the Missoula City-County Health Department, they’re slowly finding their feet as the economy begins to turn and people eye a return to near normal.
Dallas Neil, co-owner of The Source fitness center on Brooks Street, closed the business on March 19 at the height of the pandemic. Two months have passed and the facility has reopened, but on a reduced basis.
“We went ahead and spaced all the equipment more than six feet apart,” Neil said. “We have a dedicated person who will go around and disinfect. Members will have single-use towels to make sure they can wipe things down.”
The gym also has reduced capacity to 50% of what’s normal, and it’s not currently offering guest passes or day passes to customers. Those who do attend must have a regular membership.
Neil said the business also purchased an electrostatic gun to help sanitize the facility. It’s the same gun used by schools and hospitals, he said.
“We wanted to do everything we can to make people feel safe and not have the presence of COVID in our facility,” he said. “One of the things we can do that’s a little different is that we actually have a rooftop open air deck. We can have socially distanced classes outside, which will help with people who want to do yoga and say hi to someone but keep a distance.”
Before the pandemic hit and the business was forced to close, Neil said it employed around 30 people, with about 20 of them being instructors. By the end of April, he believes nearly everyone will return – at least those who haven’t moved on.
“It’s really important for gyms and health clubs to understand the market dynamics are changing,” said Neil. “Some people are nervous about being in the club and some people can’t wait to be back there. You need to deal with a broad range of dynamics and make sure you’re serving the needs of everybody.”