Gyms reopen in Michigan after almost six months of being closed

After several months of official closures, gyms in Michigan will reopen their doors to patrons Wednesday after being given the green light the governor to allow customers back into their facilities. 

Among industries that pushed hard to reopen, gyms and fitness centers were among businesses that had to wait longest amid pandemic-related closures in Michigan. 

Then last week, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said gyms could start admitting people on Sept. 9.

“Throughout this pandemic, we have followed the best science and data available to make decisions that will keep Michiganders safe, and our hard work is paying off," she said in last Thursday's statement.

For the patrons back to working out, it was a sigh of relief with a little annoyance.

"I counted there were five of us. So I'm glad to see people back. A lot of people don't want to come back because of the mask. Life is what it is, I'm not really happy about it I," said one man who said he purchased one for exercising in. 

Mask-wearing was one of the requirements for any going to exercise. It was also among the changes that patrons cited as the most irritating to deal with.

However, it's also one of the changes that Whitmer believes will continue to allow businesses like gyms to operate amid the pandemic. 

"Michigan is in a much stronger position than many other states in the country and it's because the people of our state took it seriously, the businesses community was a good partner in promulgating protocol and ensuring we keep our workforce safe, so I think there's a lot to be proud here," she said Wednesday morning. "We also recognize this is all very precarious."

She said both knowns and unknowns about the virus and the state's capability of responding make it difficult to plan for further reopenings and underscore the challenge of just making it this far.

"This is a virus we still don't have a vaccine or a cure for," she said. "So we're watching the science and data about risk of specific activities, the science and spread of the current epidemic, the science and data about the disease itself and how it spreads, our testing and tracing infrastructure."

Due to the nature of how COVID-19 transmits, the scenario of crowds of people exerting more than the average walker would prove a difficult setting to control the spread of the virus. That's why there was more than one caveat next to Whitmer's announcement. 

For gyms to reopen, they'll need to abide by a number of safety protocols:

  • Patrons must wear a mask
  • Gym capacity is limited to 25% of the normal occupancy
  • Workout stations must enable six feet of distance between individuals exercising
  • Provide equipment-cleaning products at every station and make hand sanitizer readily available
  • Ensure ventilation systems operate properly, as well as increase outdoor air circulation as much as possible
  • Steam rooms, saunas, jacuzzis, and cold plunge pools must remain closed
  • Maintain accurate records, including date and time-of-entry-and-exit logs to aid with contact tracing

People can expect gyms both large and small to reopen on Wednesday. Planet Fitness, the largest chain of gyms in the state is set to reopen more than 60 locations. 

RELATED: Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer permits organized sports to resume with strict safety measures

Several smaller outlets dotted around Detroit and the metro region also expected to reopen.