As lockdowns ease across the US this month, many Americans are wondering just how soon they can get back to their favorite activities. For fitness fanatics, the big question has been when they can return to the gym and get their pump on. Now, a studio in Redondo Beach, California has introduced a novel way to keep gym-goers safe and distant while they work up a sweat.
In order to reopen his gym, Peet Sapsin, owner of Inspire South Bay Fitness, instituted the usual COVID-19 precautions, including cutting class sizes and requiring masks. It quickly became clear, however, that the masks could be an issue.
“We tested it out on Zoom […] and could tell that people couldn’t breathe,” Sapsin told CNN. “We felt really bad for them. Our clients are like our family. We were thinking, how do we want our family to feel?”
Fiercely committed to making their customers feel safe, Sapsin and his wife soon hit upon a novel idea: workout pods. “My wife drew them out on paper, and soon after, we built our first prototype.”
After finalizing the design of the six-by-ten-foot pods, Sapsin and his wife distributed them to their gym’s customers.
“We sent the prototypes to our clients, and they were very excited, and felt more comfortable knowing there was a clear wall between one person and the next.”
Sapsin says that it was a matter of necessity for the gym to find a way to reopen. “If we had to shut down for an extra month, we don’t know if we can reopen again,” he told the Associated Press. “Running a successful business is already hard as it is. We have to kind of push limits a little bit and come up with solution just to get back on our feet.”
Inspire South Bay Fitness isn’t the first gym to reopen during the pandemic. Guidelines to reopen gyms were released by the government as early as April as part of tentative reopening procedures. These gyms also instituted social distancing requirements like limited check-ins for guests, as well as mandatory masks, gloves, and temperature checks for employees.