The Checkup: A look at hurdles fitness centers must jump

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The Berkshire Eagle

With this daily feature, The Eagle runs down breaking local developments in the coronavirus crisis.

FITNESS FINE PRINT: The Checkup continues to wade into the fine print of Phase 3 of the state's reopening plan, which arrived Monday. We are highlighting rules and recommendations that accompany the restart.

Today: Fitness centers and health clubs.

The items here are highlights only. For the full picture, visit the state's online guidance.

OK, first the definitions. By "fitness centers and health clubs," the folks in Boston mean any place that promotes the same, including weight and resistance training, "cross training," yoga, martial arts, spin classes and yes, "boot camp training."

First piece of advice: If you can do it outside, do it outside.

If you've been following our immersion in the fine print for a few days, these guidelines may seem familiar.

- EYES ON NUMBERS: Operators must keep tabs on the number of people present to avoid violating social distancing standards.

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Places are limited to 40 percent of their normal maximum occupancy. Those that don't have an assigned limit cannot exceed 8 people per 1,000 square feet of accessible indoor or outdoor space.

In group classes, people are supposed to keep 14 feet apart if there are no barriers.

- THE FLOOR: All equipment and exercise areas should be at least 14 feet apart. Machines can be 6 feet apart if barriers are installed. People will be asked not to share things like yoga mats.

- MASK USE: If customers cannot wear masks during strenuous exercise, they should remain at least 14 feet apart. However, 6 feet is OK if customers wear masks.

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- TAKE THE CUES: Centers are being asked, just like supermarkets, to guide movement indoors through use of signs and directional arrows — all to keep people from jamming up.

- BARRIERS: Because people step up respiration while exercising, new risks are present. The state is asking centers to consider installing plastic barriers between pieces of equipment. They should be high enough, the state says, "to effectively block respiration from someone using the equipment. If barriers are installed, they must be cleaned regularly."

- WIPES, LOTS OF WIPES: Before the pandemic, people have been expected to wipe down equipment. Now, you can put that in bold-face type and capitalize it and, why not, underline it for good measure. Expect a sea of sanitizer. Communal showers? Gone for now.

- FINE PRINT OF FINE PRINT: This is verbatim from the state: "Encourage customers to use one piece of equipment at a time (e.g., limit circuit training or 'super sets' with multiple pieces of equipment) in order to facilitate required sanitizing. Facilities must provide sanitization supplies at each piece of equipment in order for customers to clean in between each use. If sanitation (or the monitoring thereof by employees) of any piece of equipment is not possible or practical, this equipment should be closed off." You had us at "super sets."

- THIRST-QUENCHING: Centers are being asked to turn water fountains into refill stations. No slurping.

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- NOT-SO-PERSONAL TRAINING: As you might expect, personal trainers are asked to maintain 6 feet of distance from clients "to the extent possible." And to wear face masks. At ease.

THE NUMBERS: Berkshire County added two confirmed or probable COVID-19 cases Monday, lifting the number to 604. The death toll remained at 45.

The state Department of Public Health revised the number of deaths statewide in its tally by separating out only those deaths linked to confirmed cases — not probable cases — as of Monday. That resulted in lowering the total by 200. The new death total is 7,983, including 15 new deaths.

New cases for Massachusetts increased by 157, but the overall total was also sharply reduced with the shift in the DPH reporting practice. The new case total is 104,659 — down from the 109,974 figure reported Sunday, which included probable cases.

AT THE HOSPITALS: As of Monday, for the third day, neither Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield nor Fairview Hospital in Great Barrington had any COVID-19 patients.

The COVID-19 patient count for other western Massachusetts hospitals: Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton, 10 cases, one in ICU; Baystate Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield, no cases; Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, 15 cases, two in ICU; Mercy Medical Center in Springfield, six cases, none in ICU; Holyoke Hospital, three cases, none in ICU; Baystate Noble Hospital in Westfield, no cases.

The numbers include both confirmed and suspected cases.

To contribute news to The Checkup, please email lparnass@berkshireeagle.com or call 413-588-8341.


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