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How local gyms are surviving the COVID-19 pandemic

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(WSIL) -- Exercise is good for physical and mental health, but with coronavirus it becomes a challenge.

When Phase 4 began in Illinois in June, local gyms were allowed to reopen with safety precautions.

For over three months, The Sweat Shop in Carterville has invested many efforts to protect its members.

"There will be a whole lot more precautions and we keep it clean as possible. Our cleaning procedures were really good before, but just ramping up on them for sure. But everyone's felt really safe," said fitness trainer Matt Cirre.

Personal Trainer Matt Cirre says employees wear masks and gym members follow new procedures like carrying around sanitizing spray for equipment.

"We did remove a little bit of equipment or we moved some other ones around like the treadmills. We had to take a couple bikes out and move some here and there so that we could keep at least six feet apart," he said.

Cirre says the gym has over 900 active members and has gained more since the reopening.

Over in Marion, Planet Fitness says they've seen a trend with it members.

"We had about 5,000 members, now we're just under 4,000, but it's kind of been doing that back and forth," said Planet Fitness General Manager Cody Aho.

Aho says technology has been a big part of protecting members.

"All around, we've been implementing, introducing our app features and upgrading them so we can have more social distancing practices in place," he said.

He says besides regular sanitizing, the gym deep cleans the equipment every evening.

Both gyms say they hope more people return to their fitness clubs.

"We have a a cleaning schedule that we just updated for COVID and making sure we are going above and beyond to keep things sanitized," said Aho.

Health officials say transmission of the coronavirus is much lower in an outdoor setting with plenty of air flow and more space between people, which may not be possible in a gym.

Maya Skinner

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