“Open for Business” Under State Guidelines

Members workout at CrossFit Liberate. Image by Taylor Gerlach.

On May 4, Metabolic CrossFit in Memphis, Tennessee, reopened its doors.

Owner Cathy Draper said they found out three days prior that Monday was the “go” date for the first phase of opening. “We were pretty excited,” she shared. “Coaches and athletes expressed enthusiasm.”

In Athens, Georgia, CrossFit Liberate also reopened on May 4. Co-owner Jack Green said they took a survey of the membership to see how many were up for coming back if they reopened. Out of 69 responses, 46 said they would come back. That met the minimum of the 30% equipment return the gym needed to hold classes again. Liberate had rented out approximately 90 equipment packages to any member who didn’t put their membership on hold. So, the staff picked up the equipment from those members who were ready to return, disinfected it and hired a company to clean the gym the night before opening.

With just open gym hours at first due to state guidelines, the Box has since progressed to host six-person, and now eight-person, classes. Green said members requested group classes and when Georgia approved them on May 12, the Box was on it. “We felt like we could better serve the membership from every single aspect if we went back to group classes,” said Green.

Metabolic CrossFit can easily accommodate classes of 12 athletes, marking off a dozen 10 by 12-foot blocks. Draper shared each block either has a bike or a rower, a spray bottle of sanitizer, and a towel. Plus, the rig has plenty of room for athletes to space out accordingly.

The cleaning routine has been beefed up since COVID-19. Draper said athletes use hand sanitizer upon entering and exiting the gym, and are required to wipe down their equipment before and after they work out. Coaches wear lightweight masks, and spray down door handles, light switches, etc. They monitor for proper distancing and run 45-minute workouts as mandated by the city.

Image by Taylor Gerlach.

In terms of check-in, Coaches will sign athletes in and are the only ones allowed to touch the computer, keyboard, mouse and remotes. These items get sanitized after every class, and a silicone keyboard makes this easier.

Chalk was another consideration. “We have discontinued communal hand chalk and sidewalk chalk athletes use when writing scores on the floor,” said Draper. “Each athlete was provided with a bag of hand chalk and a piece of sidewalk chalk to keep as their own, and to replenish on their own as needed.”

Green said when deciding to reopen, you have to be very careful with your decisions. And it’s important to offer in-gym and at-home options. In announcing reopening, Green and his business partner sat down for a Facebook Live to address the community on what the plans were and how they wanted to serve both groups. “You want to support the people who want to come back to the gym because if I were a member and you were able to open and didn’t, I would feel like you weren’t supporting me,” he shared. “But at the same time, you want to continue to provide resources to the members who don’t feel comfortable in returning to the gym.”

Metabolic also has members who, for various reasons, have chosen to keep their memberships on hold or remain at home working out. But the excitement is still tangible to be back in the gym. As such, Draper advised other gyms to not be afraid. Follow state and city guidelines above and beyond, and move forward slowly, but don’t let fear keep you from running your gym. “Make your plan clear to your Coaches and your athletes,” she said. “Follow the plan and make sure everyone at your gym is following the plan.”

For Green, his biggest piece of advice is to communicate. Be open-minded to both sides of members coming back and staying home. And take the proper precautions. Because in the end, the impact mentally and emotionally of reopening the gym has been worth it for both members and staff. “When we were able to reopen the gym, the smiles on people’s faces, the energy, you had people thank you, and just being around people again, because CrossFit is such a community, that really helps my emotional state a lot,” said Green.

Heather is the editor for Box Pro Magazine. Contact her at heather@peakemedia.com.

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