CULLMAN, Ala. – With the annual flood of new members joining to kick off New Year’s resolutions, local gyms and fitness centers are finding ways to keep their members healthy and safe while health experts caution about post-holiday spikes in numbers of COVID-19 infections. The Tribune spoke with John Davis, manager of Anytime Fitness, and Jennifer Hunter, new owner of Jan’s Fitness Club, to see how this year looks different.
Davis said Anytime Fitness has always had very thorough cleaning and sanitizing routines, even before the pandemic, but now it has stepped up to make sure that facilities and equipment are not just clean, but immaculate.
“We’ve always practiced thorough cleaning and sanitizing even before the pandemic hit, so the only thing that’s really changed is we’re using some stronger chemicals that really kill off everything,” he said. “We also offer wipes for anyone to use and wipe down the equipment, as well as hand sanitizer. We don’t require masks just because we think it’s not something you can easily work out in, but we’ve been able to keep everyone spaced apart and we’ve been keeping on top of our cleaning routine.”
Hunter said reopening Jan’s Fitness Club came with some new technology to ensure the women who use the facility stay healthy.
“We’ve got a fog machine that sprays the disinfectant everywhere like the schools have, and we also have a temperature check on the wall that the ladies check when they come in. The temp check is connected to my phone and lets me know if someone comes in with a temperature, and it also has an alarm,” said Hunter, who said her patrons “have been wonderful about distancing and sticking to guidelines to keep everyone healthy,” with some continuing to mask up even while working out.
When asked how this year compares to other post-New Year turnout, Davis remarked that there was a definite decrease in the number of new members.
“Usually, we get a flood of people around this time of year, and while there are more people than usual compared to the past few months, we’re still only seeing about half the number of people we usually get during the new year,” he said.
Hunter said she saw an increase in new members. “When we were in quarantine for so long, people were really starting to feel the need to get out and move, and when we opened back up, we just had a lot of people join us,” she remarked. “It’s really thanks to God’s work and His influence. I’ve never seen so many people getting out and biking and walking and running, and I really think that this virus has made people more aware of the need for exercise and health focus.”
She said that she’s added a new 5:30 a.m. class for women whose schedules conflict with other workout times.
The Tribune also asked both what hopes they have for their gyms in 2021.
Davis: “Hopefully things will get back to normal soon with the vaccine. We usually do monthly boot camps, and unfortunately last year and some of this year we definitely won’t get to do. It’s a bit of a bummer because those are a good chance for the community to come and check out our facilities and our culture here, but we’re not too worried about everything else. We’re here for the people who feel comfortable coming out and exercising with us now, and we’ll be here for everyone else once the cases start easing up.”
Hunter: “What I’m hoping for is that this virus goes away to where I can fit more people in the facilities, but I really don’t know what else there is to say. As cliche as it is, we really are all in this together. The ladies here have been wonderful, and I couldn’t ask for anything better right now. If it wasn’t for God Almighty and the ladies who come work out here, I never could’ve kept things moving.”
Editor’s note: Longtime owner of Jan’s Fitness Club, Janet Woods, passed away in October 2020.
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