Gym update

Joey Carter, Blackshear native and self-acclaimed ‘gym junkie’, pedals away on a stationary bike for his cardio workout at Anytime Fitness. “He’s our mascot” says gym owner Joe Youmans.

Most aspects of everyday life in Pierce County have returned to normal even as Governor Brian Kemp continues to loosen COVID-19 (coronavirus) restrictions on businesses and restaurants  — that includes gyms.

Blackshear’s two fitness centers report business as usual for the most part, except for maintaining additional cleaning protocols and some distancing recommendations.

“We abide by the state regulation in cleaning. We use the best sanitizer,” says Joe Youmans, Anytime Fitness owner. “We clean every hour, steady cleaning.”

Employees at Infinite Fitness in Blackshear used the three-week shut down in April to do a deep cleaning of the facility.

“We wiped places that have never been wiped,” said co-owner Gena Harris. “I wanted members to see when they came back that we had been cleaning.”

Gym employees have kept up those procedures, wiping down equipment, machines and door handles regularly.

And, members seem to be more conscious of cleaning up after themselves now, too.

“Everybody has picked up on cleaning a bit more. They (members) are actually cleaning instead of just leaving,” Harris observes. “That has changed a tremendous amount.”

Infinite Fitness members have resumed their work out schedules for the most part now with a few adjustments  — some members come later in the evening to avoid peak times, Harris says.

“We’re back to the norm, even sales and supplements,” Harris says.

Members have returned to Anytime slowly, but Youmans attributes that to the change in routine.

“It’s challenging to get back in a workout routine after being out of sync for three weeks.Some of them got out of their routine. That’s one of the biggest issues,” he says.

“The dedicated members that are daily have come back,” Youmans told The Times. “Members who feel it’s not the right time are staying home right now and we understand that.”

Youmans estimates Anytime’s clientele are mostly middle-aged to seniors. Younger gym-goers are probably 20 percent of their membership, Youmans says.

Neither gym has had a problem meeting the capacity metrics required when they first reopened. Patrons used every other treadmill or cardio machine in order to spread out, but those restrictions have been loosened now. Both fitness centers are offering exercise classes on the normal schedule.

Youmans and Harris are thankful members have been understanding, even when they couldn’t utilize their gyms for three weeks. Both gyms have offered refund or credit options, but few are complaining or taking advantage of the offers.

“Everybody seemed to be understanding and ready to get back,” Harris says. “A lot of people were saying ‘Don’t worry about it. We want y’all to stay in business.’”

Thankfully, neither gym has received notification of a member contracting COVID-19 or frequenting their facility with the virus.

Pierce County Nurse Manager Candi Lee acknowledges frequenting the gym is a part of “normal” life many locals are eager to resume. The Dept. of Public Health recommends gym goers keep maintaining the recommended safety protocols, she says.

The protocols include:

• Stay home if sick,

• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least twenty seconds,

• Avoid close contact with those who may be sick,

• Cover coughs and/or sneezes with a tissue and dispose of the tissue when done, and

• Clean frequently touched surfaces.

“These everyday preventive measures can help reduce the spread of any infectious respiratory illness,” Lee says.