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Gyms and fitness centers prepare to reopen their doors

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said gyms can reopen as soon as Monday with 33% capacity, and they have until September 2, if they need more time.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — For months, gyms and fitness centers across New York State have sat empty during the COVID pandemic, but today, that's changing. 

Todd Schifferle, the general manager at the Jewish Community Center in Getzville said, "We are just running around excited, just putting everything down, getting ready for Monday." 

That's the earliest Gov. Andrew Cuomo said gyms can open their doors again, as long as they follow strict guidelines from the state.

"If it's not done right, it can be a problem and we've seen that, so I wouldn't say exactly it's the hardest, but it is an area of concern. That's why we went slow on it," Cuomo said.

The governor also said that masks must be worn at all times and gyms must have the HVAC ventilation, similar to what malls were required to have before reopening. Also, members must sign in and out each time they attend to make it easier if contact tracing becomes necessary.

At the Jewish Community Center in Getzville, you'll notice changes right away. For example, a temperature check and survey when you walk in the door and new signage throughout the facility.

Schifferle added, "Our members are making a one-hour appointment to come in. When they come in they're gonna have hand-sanitizers available and also they're gonna have cleaning stations throughout and the after the hour we actually close the facility. Our dedicated floor staff is gonna open up and sanitize it, CDC guidelines."

Preparations are also underway at Absolute Performance, inside the Eastern Hills Mall.

"Technically, we've probably been ready for the first of July or a little before that," said Tom Corradino, the head performance coach at Absolute Performance.

Corradino said their athletes will likely notice changes in spacing and class sizes.

"Where on a given night we might have as many as 150 athletes through our doors for training, including teams. Now we'll be more towards the 30 or 40 mark total in the evening," he said.

One of the most notable guidelines from the state is that facilities are limited to 33% occupancy.

"We're a large facility. We have 100 pieces of cardio [equipment] so we kinda did the numbers, and we should be great," Schifferle said.

Corradino added, "Each individual person will have their own individual rack, or if it's on the turf, a five-yard-space. Athletes will have their own bikes, rowers, kettlebells, barbells."

Of course, there are still challenges ahead for gyms and fitness centers and several mandates to adhere to, but the people we spoke with told 2 On Your Side they're heading in the right direction. 

"Overall, from the perspective of our athletes, our coaches and our owners, we're just happy to be open and happy to be able to do what we love," Corradino said. 

Schifferle added, "Smile and have fun, and welcome back."