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Darrell Pruitt signs up for a gym membership at Copper Fitness with co-owner Justin Foss a couple days after gyms were given the go-ahead to reopen. 

When the news came from Gov. Doug Ducey that gyms could reopen Wednesday, Copper Fitness owners Lou Alvarez and Justin Foss were ready. 

“It feels amazing,” Foss said. “It’s been the longest 50 days of my life and I’m so happy to open.”

The gym opened at 8 a.m. and though it wasn’t as busy as it was prior to the closure, it was a good feeling for Foss.

“It felt like the first day of school and we were ready to go,” he said. “It wasn’t crazy, about 40 to 50 people, a lot of repeat clients, and we did have five new sign-ups.”

Copper Fitness has separated all its equipment six feet apart to meet guidelines from the state and Pima County. They have also reduced hours in an effort to take things slowly.

Members will see more spray bottles of disinfectants, and Foss said clients have done a great job cleaning the machines after their use.

Though it will take some time to recover from the impacts of COVID-19, residents who came in the first day were ready to get back to their workout routines.

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Copper Fitness owners Justin Foss and Lou Alvarez said they have been coming in almost every day while they were closed to stay busy and keep preparing for the day they'd get to reopen.

“People were very excited and thanked us for being open,” he said.” A lot of places didn’t open so people were itching to get back in.”

Though those in the industry were excited for the opportunity to get back into the rhythm and cash flow of their normal operations, not all of them were as quick to reopen the doors. Many are waiting until next week to allow more time to prepare to bring people back into their facilities, which put people in close proximity to each other by nature.

Gyms waiting

Jay Hamill, one of the owners at GV CrossFit, said they won’t reopen until Wednesday.

“We’re going to take a few more days as a precaution so we can put out what we need to,” he said. “I do wish we had more of a heads-up because we’ve lent out close to 90 percent of our equipment to help members workout during quarantine and it’s going to take a couple days to get back all the equipment.”

GV CrossFit offered training sessions and Zoom classes online to bring in revenue, though it wasn’t enough to bring them up to where they usually are in clients.

“It was probably not as much as we wanted — 20 people in a day, a few more,” Hamill said. “Compared to our normal daily numbers, we're significantly down, memberships are significantly down, but we’re still OK and well.”

To meet the guidelines, they will be limiting class sizes and doing extra wipe downs of equipment. Hamill and his business partner are the only trainers so they will be checking their temperatures daily before they come in.

Clients started reaching out to Hamill before he even knew about the governor's green light.

“I had been remodeling — we repainted and reorganized to change up the feel of the gym — and before I even got home I was already getting 20 messages,” he said. “That response in 30 minutes shows people want to get back to work.”

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Many gyms are moving their equipment six feet apart from each other to meet social distancing guidelines. Copper Fitness included several treadmills closer together for couples only. 

Undisputed South offers group training in jiu jitsu, boxing, kickboxing, MMA, yoga and self-defense.

Owner Matt Blank said the type of fitness they provide is close contact, but they will be implementing safety procedures when they open Monday.

“I actually reached out to friends in other parts of the country who have reopened to see how they followed the guidelines,” he said. “As far as preparing, it's not very clear what we can and can't do, but we are going to do our best.”

Classes will be limited to 10 people, there are X’s on the ground to keep people six feet apart, there will only be one or two instructors per class and guests are asked to stay home if sick.

Blank has been engaging with clients via a social media group to gauge their comfort levels through a survey. He said 55 percent said they were ready to return.

“Jiu jitsu is like therapy, there are a lot of benefits. It's been a struggle not to have that outlet to do rolls and chokes and just see each other on a weekly basis,” he said. “The financial part isn't fun and some members personally struggled and felt like, ‘You took away my weekly therapy.’”

He knows what they do will look different, but is focused on moving past this “bump in the road” to rebuild and move to their new location in Green Valley Village in July. 

Rancho Sahuarita residents will have to wait to use the fitness center. In a statement to the community, Community Director Michelle Moreno wrote they would be waiting until early June to reopen and it will be incremental. The fitness center will be the first of their community facilities to open. 

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Gym-goer Al Navarro prepares to wipe down his machine. Copper Fitness owner Lou Alvarez said clients are mindful of keeping the equipment clean. 

Holding off

Stacey Bell owns Transform Green Valley Yoga and said she is not planning on opening until June 1.

“A lot of my clients are in the 65-plus age bracket and I've reached out to a number of them who are not quite comfortable yet,” she said. “I will see how things go and feel two weeks is enough time to see if there are any spikes.”

To supplement that loss in business, Bell has offered online classes which have been popular even with clients outside the area. She’ll continue offering the digital classes once they do reopen and she has other services to offer.

“I also will do privates for those interested in being guaranteed they have the space not to have to worry about anyone else,” she said.

Jennifer Adolfs is holding off until Monday to reopen Serenity Pilates, starting with a light opening over the next couple weeks.

“It seemed like there was no news for a long time then all of a sudden we can reopen, but we’ve been preparing for how we're coming back,” she said. “We have five instructors but will have just two over the next couple weeks and we’re going to be doing a lot of one-on-ones and small groups of five.”

Additionally, they will have a separate entrance for guests who are high risk or concerned. One-on-one guests will wait in their vehicle until the previous client has left the room and it has been cleaned.

They’re currently discussing if gloves and masks will be required of staff, something they have turned to customers for feedback on.

Because the style of pilates they teach is equipment-oriented they’ve had to update the equipment so it's easier to clean. The impacts on business have brought revenue down to a standstill. 

“We have been out of work for two months and I’m still paying rent,” she said. “I’m pretty well-established and have always been a saver so I had extra and I knew I could weather the storm. But, I don't know what's going to happen because people will be a little fearful.”

So far, clients have expressed a great desire to return despite their fears.

“Everyone is eager to get back,” she said. “Pilates for most is a lifestyle and they’re losing balance, their body has been deconditioned and it’s affecting their health and immunity. They’re eager and willing to come out for the most part.”

Spas

Though salons were allowed to reopen May 8, spa services and massage therapists had to wait till Wednesday.

Victoria Dorris is an aesthetician and owns and operates Nevaeh Day Spa by herself. She has reopened her doors and feels comfortable spreading clients out since she is the only person doing treatments.

“I can spread out people the way I need to sanitize,” she said. “After every person leaves I steam clean the flooring.”

She is taking things slow and not doing any kind of body work, only services like waxing and facials. It won’t be until June 1 or 2 that she goes back to her full offerings.

Though clients have been scheduling appointments since her reopening, COVID-19 is still impacting her business.

“I know a lot of places aren't in business anymore and it's an honor to keep doing this but I still have to pay rent, that’s not gone away,” she said. “I would say the biggest impact is that I work with oncology patients and a lot of them won’t come in for awhile, that’s a huge part of my clientele.”

Continental Spa opened this week with a reduced staff of four out of their 16 employees. They started off with a smaller menu of services by appointment only including lash extensions, waxing and some skin services. 

Owner Rebecca Willer said they will begin to bring back more employees and massages, facials and all laser services. 

"We evaluate, learn, adapt and implement processes and procedures daily to ensure the safety and happiness of our clients," she said. "Unfortunately, we missed out on the last few months of snowbird busy season and we are reopening going into summer when things slow down but we are all so grateful to even have the opportunity to reopen and we are so thankful for all our amazing loyal clients that continue to support us. "

While the spa was closed for two months, Willer created an online store so customers could order products and they offered free delivery. But the COVID closure delayed expansion for their previously growing customer base. 

The spa is focusing it's energy on safety procedures. 

Workers take their temperatures before work and everyone, including customers, is required to wear a mask, which will provided if needed.  

Appointment times have been extended for additional cleaning between each client and only one customer is allowed in the waiting room at a time. 

Jamie Verwys | 520-547-9732