When the pandemic closed down gyms in March, it didn't take long for Berkshire Fitness and Wellness Center to adapt.
"We were shut down at 2 p.m.," said owner Aimee Marshall, "and we were online by 4 p.m."
Marshall adapted her fitness classes to Zoom, and even though she opened her North Street studio in Pittsfield with phase three of the state's reopening last week, she's still propping up a laptop and webcam to communicate with her online students.
Marshall showed The Eagle her new setup on Monday afternoon, leading exercises and shouting over upbeat music as her lone in-person and two virtual students joined in.
Chuck Magnesio, a Pittsfield resident, kept the beat from inside one of the studio's six pods— boxes outlined on the floor where patrons can work out without a mask, flanked by shower curtains which Marshall said she placed six feet apart. The curtains get washed four times a day, Marshall said.
"I call them the body masks," she said with a laugh.
Marshall's diligence in cleaning surfaces helped give some other members the confidence to return to in-person workouts.
"It's always been clean, but now it's to the umpteenth degree," said Michelle Pride, a Pittsfield resident who stopped in for a shoulder workout.
Mallory DiMarco tuned into Monday's class via Zoom. She's not quite ready to go back in the studio, but sanitation isn't the reason. She's pregnant, and with another young child at home, it's more convenient to get her exercise via Zoom.
Still, the virtual substitute can't quite match the real thing.
"I miss the atmosphere," she said via videoconference before the class started.
In North Adams, the YMCA has reopened, but with a number of precautions in place.
Patrons must remain six feet apart and wear a mask when using strength equipment, and 14 feet away when using cardio machines, though no masks are required there. When they're done, users wipe down the equipment and post a sign denoting that the unit is not fully sanitized. An attendant then sanitizes the equipment more thoroughly and flips the sign, signifying it's ready for use.
The facility's pool is also open, but only for lap swimming, and lanes must be reserved ahead of time. The locker rooms are closed, but there is space to change clothes.
Maureen Strype, a nurse from Williamstown, said she was excited to get in the water on Monday.
"I missed it like crazy," she told The Eagle.
As a health care worker, Strype said the new rules, like wearing a mask, didn't bother her. In fact, she praised the gym's gradual reopening.
"The Y has been smart in how they're developing the policy," she said.
Jessica Rumlow, chief executive officer of Berkshire Family YMCA, said the gym will keep some of its services, like swim classes, on hold for the moment.
"As we get used to the new guidelines and the flow of things, we'll start reopening," she said.
The organization's two gyms in Pittsfield and North Adams are seeing about a quarter of their capacity under new guidelines, Rumlow said.
"It definitely has been on the slower side for us," she said. "I would like to see it ramp up a bit more."
But Rumlow noted that having less people has helped both staff and employees adjust to the new regulations.
Edwin Veras, a New Yorker spending the summer in North Adams, has had to adjust his workout routine due to the restrictions; he normally goes for the free weights, which are closed. Still, he said, the changes weren't too cumbersome.
"It's not bad," he said. "You gotta work with what you have."
Jack Lyons can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JackLyonsND.