Gyms are Opening: No Childcare, Bring Your Own Disinfectant, & What Else to Expect

Group of people practising ballet

Chicago, as part of Region 4, is set to move into Phase 3 on Friday. Quite a few changes are allowed by the state, although local governments are free to impose stricter guidelines.

It will be no surprise to Chicago residents, that Chicago Mayor, Lori Lightfoot, will most likely impose stricter regulations, at least for a few weeks.

That being said, let’s take a look at what allowances are being made for the state under Phase 3, as it pertains to gyms and fitness clubs. The list is non-exhaustive, which is meant to include all fitness studios, whether they are rowing, cycling, small, or large. All fitness facilities are eligible to open, as long as the guidelines are followed.

The regulations are calling for a 50% capacity or 5 people per 1,000 square feet allowance. Appointments must be made and walk-ins will not be allowed.

Each gym will have the ability to decide how to handle appointment setting, and will be their own enforcement of the capacity limits. This guideline is discretionary, as the state realizes that every gym has a different capacity level.

This capacity allowance applies to anyone wishing to go to the gym and utilize free weights, treadmills, or any of the other equipment on the floor. While some gyms may have heavy duty sanitizer, many do not. You may want to bring your own can of disinfectant to apply to the machine and or free weights before using them.

The guidelines require that gym goers wear facial coverings when entering and leaving the fitness facility. They do not require, but do recommend, that individuals wear facial coverings while working out. This has been a much-debated issue, and will be left to individual discretion.

The guidelines also require that equipment be spaced 10 feet apart without a barrier, or 6 feet apart with a barrier. Most gyms will presumably need to reconfigure their equipment and weights, in order to comply. This in itself, will take up more space, and will allow for less people to partake.

One-on-one personal training is allowed, as long as the 6 feet of social distancing is maintained.

Outdoor group fitness classes of 10 or less participants are also allowed. Participants must be stationed 10 feet apart from each other and follow the same guidelines regarding facial coverings mentioned above. The guidelines are rather vague, but would seem to include group fitness classes that utilize machines, such as rowing or cycle, as long as the equipment is placed outdoors and properly spaced.

Ancillary accommodations such as saunas and childcare will not be allowed. Water fountains that are not touchless, water bottle refill stations, will also not be allowed.
This will be a new challenge for gym owners, instructors, trainers, and athletes alike. We will all have to be patient with each other as we get used to this new normal of operation.

For a full description of the IL DCEO guidelines, click here.

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Mandi has been running for over 25 years and has participated in the Chicago, Detroit, and Boston Marathons. Mandi regularly competes in regional events and enjoys being a part of several running groups including CARA and the Badgerland Striders. She is a co-host on the Ten Junk Miles podcast and looks forward to hosting the Chicago Athlete Podcast. An RRCA certified coach and Les Mills certified instructor, Mandi is also a coach with Chicago Athlete Coaching. Mandi is a local government attorney by weekday and race warrior by weekend.


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