Finding an open gym is a workout

Evolutions Fitness in Tulare is open under county rules while Lifestyle Center in Visalia awaits state approval; most private gyms remain closed

VISALIA – Finding a gym that’s open can be quite a work out these days. With the County declaring itself in Stage 3 three weeks ago and the state probably another week away, those tired of YouTube workouts and the cobbled together home gyms won’t find any consistency in the fitness landscape across Tulare County.

Corporate gyms, such as Planet Fitness and In-Shape, were still closed as of press time, but did offer a glimpse into what operations will look like when they return. Gyms in Porterville, Woodlake and Lindsay are all still listed as temporarily closed. Snap Fitness in Exeter reopened on May 21, according to staff, but most of its locations throughout the country remained closed. Other Exeter gyms, such as Brickhouse Gym and Get Fit were still closed as of press time.

In a statement last month, In-Shape Clubs did say they were “working closely with our state and local officials in California to determine the best time to open to ensure the health of our communities. The safety of our members and team members is our number one priority.”

When members return, In-Shape said those working out will be subject to social distancing rules and staff members will be upholding new cleaning standards.

Planet Fitness will be debuting a touchless check-in using a digital keytag or app, will upgrade its cleaning stations to use disinfectant spray proven effective against COVID-19 and said some cardio and strength machines would not be available for use to ensure people remain six feet apart. It is also asking those working out to be “cleansiderate” by wiping down equipment before and after each use, stay home if you aren’t feeling well and trade in your high-fives for a thumbs up.

Both fitness chains said they have frozen memberships during the stay-at-home order and have promised that no dues will be charged until they reopen.

What about hospital related health clubs? They don’t agree either.

Kaweah Delta says it will not open the Lifestyles Center until the state gives its thumbs up but Evolutions Fitness and Wellness Center, overseen by the Tulare Hospital District, has been working out for a week.

Kaweah Delta announced on May 27 that it will not re-open The Lifestyle Center until the State gives fitness facilities the green light to open amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“At the end of the day, we are committed to your health and well-being,” said Patrick Tazio, Director of The Lifestyle Center, to members of the medically-based fitness facility. “We hope you can appreciate that you are the reason we must take a more cautious approach in re-opening.”

Tazio told members that TLC is working to put a number of changes in place to keep them, along with staff, safe including:

Safety Screenings: Members’ temperatures will be taken and they will be asked to answer a series of questions to ensure they do not pose a risk to others.

Moving Equipment: Cardio and strength equipment will open first, so TLC is moving equipment, some into the gymnasium, to make sure that members are six feet apart from each other.

Thorough Cleaning: TLC is continuing to use hospital-grade cleaners to meet all guidelines for cleanliness and safety set by the State and Federal government.

Member Limits: TLC may limiting the number of members into the facility at any one time, but in a way that will not impact members.

Temporary Closures: The following will not immediately open – pools (all public pools, spas and hot tubs are currently closed per Tulare County order), locker rooms (other than restrooms), childcare, group classes, or basketball court activities. These closures will be evaluated on a daily basis and when it safe to re-open these, TLC will.

TLC closed its doors on March 18 in response to the Governor’s shutdown order. It is a division of Kaweah Delta Health Care District and is a medically-based fitness and rehabilitation facility staffed with certified professionals. The Lifestyle Center offers a wide variety of state-of-the-art equipment, exercise rooms, and activities for all ages and abilities in a 55,000-square-foot facility in Visalia.

Evolutions opened on May 26 following the Board of Supervisors vote to propel Tulare County into Stage 3 of the Governor’s Resilience Roadmap allowing higher-risk workplaces to reopen. The gym cautions those coming back for the first time to be prepared for check-in to take a little longer. In addition to checking in with your membership tag, those entering the facility will be required to have their temperature taken with a touchless infrared thermometer, sign a COVID-19 waiver and fill out a health questionnaire. If you’re temperature is over 100 degrees, you will not be allowed to enter the facility.

“Nothing is more important to us than the safety and well-being of our members and staff, so every step we’ve taken has been with this singular goal in mind,” Evolutions stated in a message to members on its website.

The most notable changes including the closing of the men and women’s locker rooms, except for bathrooms as well as spas and saunas. Every other cardio machine will be unavailable for use, the warm water pool will be limited to eight people at a time and tables and chairs have been removed from the atrium area.

In addition to nightly cleanings, the fitness center has also added more spray bottles and single use paper towels to wipe down equipment before and after each use. Other changes will include smaller class sizes, limited number of members in areas, and the arrangement of some of our equipment on the fitness floors all in an effort to promote social distancing.

Evolutions memberships were activated as of May 26 at the same pricing level you were paying before. Members were not billed when Evolutions was closed during April and May. Members will be billed on June 5 and will be billed on the fifth of each month, continuing the same schedule prior to the pandemic.

“All of these changes are a lot, so thank you in advance for your patience and understanding as we navigate this new environment together,” the message concluded.

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