Local Gyms Strive To Meet Fitness Needs During Pandemic


Participants at a recent spinning classes at the Family YMCA. Courtesy/YMCA

By KIRSTEN LASKEY
Los Alamos Daily Post
kirsten@ladailypost.com

Despite Wednesday’s announcement that the New Mexico Department of Health put Los Alamos in the turquoise on its statewide COVID map, local fitness centers are in a balancing act between satisfying people’s fitness needs and keeping customers safe.

To meet both needs, the Family YMCA, 1450 Iris St., has gotten creative by offering both in-person and virtual fitness classes.

Recently, the Family YMCA expanded its fitness class offerings.

“Health is everyone’s top priority,” YMCA Program Coordinator Sylvie Johnson said. “A healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise increases immunological fitness in addition to a myriad other health benefits.”

She added with so many facing continued isolation, the YMCA staff is working to find innovative ways to engage and connect members as well as assist them in staying active.

The YMCA is has been permitted to operate at 50 percent of its maximum capacity, Johnson said. However, to ensure the safety of its members, the YMCA is operating well below its capacity. This allows for a “free flow of members to workout during the day”, she said.

Group fitness classes are limited to 11 people in both the main Y and the Y Express, 140 Central Park Square.

“Regardless of the numbers we are taking every precaution to keep our members safe,” Johnson said. “Our spaces are measured out to keep occupation numbers safe while working out. We are following all COVID safety precautions as recommended by the New Mexico State Department of Health. For our in-person classes, we ensure that our masked participants are adequately separated during their workout. In addition, we use at least two hepa filters per workout room. The Y Express doors remain open during workouts in order to have excellent cross ventilation with outside air.”

If uneasy about returning to the YMCA in person, Johnson said people can attend classes virtually.

“In order to help members to stay active during the pandemic, we have been offering a range of free virtual fitness classes,” she said. “For March we have expanded our in-person offerings and invite those of our members who are ready to relaunch their in-person fitness journey. Evening and weekend classes have been added to early morning and lunch time classes. Most of them will be run as hybrids, meaning that the classes will be in-person at the Main Studio and the Y Express, but will also be streaming allowing members to work out as they choose.”

“Everyone needs motivation and inspiration to stay active,” Johnson added. “In-person classes are a powerful motivator because participants share a social experience. That is why we are offering the in-person option as safely as possible in addition to our virtual classes.”

Besides the YMCA, Crossfit Los Alamos, 278 DP Road, also is striving to serve the community. Co-owner John Wilcox said now that the state is permitting businesses to operate at 50 percent capacity, this means 36 people can come to Crossfit.

However, “we cap our classes at 16 people no matter what, so it really doesn’t do anything for us, from yellow to green,” he said last week. “If we’re in the red, we can’t offer group fitness classes, so we go to an open gym format for our hours. Also, at red, we are allowed 25 percent capacity, so that is 18 people, and if two coaches are in the gym, then we would be at capacity if 16 people are in the gym.”

Wilcox added individual workout areas are marked out, social distancing is observed, and masks are required.

Anytime Fitness Owner Nicholas Muller said his gym at 195 East Road has stayed busy throughout the pandemic. Having Los Alamos County be designated turquoise by the department of health just opens more doors to what it can offer, he said.

“This place is incredibly busy,” Muller said. “We run a tight ship here, we keep it very clean.”

He credits his staff and cleaning crew for keeping Anytime Fitness compliant with the public health order.

Muller also thanks the community for its continuous support.

“A huge thank you to the community and surrounding communities … we flat out would not exist without everybody,” he said. “It is a huge group effort … it is very humbling and we are very happy to be here offering this to this community.”

Having Los Alamos get into the turquoise has been a help, he added. It allows more members to go into the gym at one time and the gym can begin offering more fitness classes. Muller said the classes will take place in the gym’s training section, which is large enough for everyone to be spaced apart.

Maneuvering through the pandemic has been a learning experience, Muller said.

“I can definitely say one of the biggest things I’ve learned through this pandemic is that cleanliness and the health of each individual is so important … I think more people are getting it that picking up after ourselves is just something that should always happen,” he said. “It is easy to get complacent, but it is really super important to stay on top of that. We will persevere and we have all been taught an important lesson. Health and fitness is so important.”

Muller said many of the cleaning practices the gym adopted during the pandemic will continue after it ends.

Anytime Fitness Owner Nicholas Muller stands in front of his fitness center last year. Photo by KayLinda Crawford/ladailypost.com

A scene from a past competition at CrossFit Los Alamos. Los Alamos Daily Post file photo

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