New Jersey gyms and health clubs can reopen at 25% capacity starting today

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Tuesday, September 1, 2020
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Get your reps in: New Jersey gyms are back open for business with some restrictions

CHERRY HILL, New Jersey (WPVI) -- Before dawn, Keith Hall was stretching in the parking lot. It was 4:40am, 20 minutes before The Edge Fitness Centers' location in Cherry Hill, New Jersey was scheduled to open.

His early arrival ensured that Hall would be the first to get in and resume the fitness routine he's been missing since COVID-19 concerns shut down gyms across New Jersey.

"I've been walking in parks. I'm getting tired of walking," Hall said. "I'm not a walker, I'm a lifter!"

More than a dozen other people also waited in line (spaced six feet apart) at The Edge as the club reopened for the first time in months. Governor Phil Murphy had previously announced that gyms would be allowed to reopen on Tuesday. The reopening, though, comes with a number of restrictions.

RELATED: Atilis Gym in Bellmawr, New Jersey, fined nearly $130,000 after defying closure order

For starters, gyms are limited to 25% capacity. Members and staff also have to wear masks. Gyms are required to space out equipment at least six feet apart. For many locations, that means doing things like closing down alternating treadmills to ensure that gym-goers are not working out right next to each other.

Group fitness classes are limited to one person per 200 square feet, which is about the size of a one-car garage. The gym members who spoke to Action News say they don't mind the restrictions.

"I think it's great. I like how they have the distancing, the clean wipes," said Jeanne Valentino of Maple Shade, NJ. "I think they should have had it a long time ago."

Employees at The Edge waited outside and checked temperatures for everyone entering on Tuesday morning. Under state requirements, gyms must keep a log of members and staffers entering and leaving the building.

The reopening of gyms comes three days before New Jersey restaurants are set to resume indoor dining.

Governor Murphy made that announcement on Monday. When they reopen for indoor dining on Friday, restaurants will be limited to a 25% capacity. Customers must also wear masks when they are not eating or drinking.

At The Edge, members noticed small tables stationed throughout the gym with spray to wipe down equipment and house hand sanitizer for members. In addition to employees cleaning throughout the day, the gym has adjusted its hours to allow time for deep cleaning.

"We have the cleaning company coming in 24/7. We've increased the cleaning standards," said Jenn Kuehn, National Director of Group Exercise for The Edge Fitness Clubs, which has reopened fitness centers in six states so far. "We are using hospital grade cleaning equipment and supplies."

Gyms hope the changes will make members feel more secure about returning to their workouts.

"Fitness is such a big part of not only physically but mentally," said Kuehn. "And that's why people miss it.