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Fitness centers delivering safety and sweat

The ceiling skylights are open for extra ventilation as Raven Anker of Valencia climbs the bouldering wall at Top Out Climbing in Santa Clarita. While many are eager to return to their previous gym routines, it’s important to remember to ease back into exercise. PHOTO BY DAN WATSON / THE SIGNAL

Gyms and fitness centers are reopening more of their operations with each new public health order. 

At the beginning of April, the Los Angeles County Public Health Department issued revised safety guidelines for gyms and fitness centers, including yoga and dance studios, climbing wall and 1:1 fitness training.

The revised guidelines reflect the county’s move to the less restrictive “orange” tier — one away from the least restrictive “yellow” tier in California’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy. 

County COVID-19 data has positioned Los Angeles to move into the “yellow” tier very soon. With that move will come more updated guidelines for gyms and fitness centers.

For now, indoor operations at gyms and fitness centers are limited to 25% occupancy. And gyms can continue to operate outdoors, with the county recommending gyms place an emphasis on outdoor activities. 

Santa Clarita Valley’s gyms and fitness centers have adapted to the changes. At Gervais Dance Studio in Valencia, a small class size — no more than 12 dancers — are able to spread out in a large room with high ceilings and great airflow and ventilation. 

Joanne Ainsworth, the studio’s owners, said the studio is cleaned daily and dancers are provided a comfortable amount of space in-between classes to relax.

“I think our customers know that they are safe because we are so small and such a tight-knit dance family,” Ainsworth told The Signal. “We all know each other, and when someone gets vaccinated, everyone knows. There is a level of friendship at our studio that is very unique.”

Ainsworth requires dancers and community members entering the studio to wear and mask and bring their own water bottle. Gervais Dance Studio also takes entrant’s temperature and asks them to answer safety questions upon entering.

Climbing walls also benefit from being large indoor spaces

“Indoor climbing facilities have inherently less exposure than other fitness facilities as there is no sustained heavy breathing,” said Howard Konishi, owner and general manager of Santa Clarita’s Top Out Climbing. 

Konishi shared a recent peer-reviewed study published in “Letters in Applied Microbiology” that found coronavirus “is unlikely to persist for extended periods of time within climbing chalk powders, and therefore the risk of fomite transmission is limited.”

“Due to the dangers of being too close to other climbers on the climbing walls, social distancing was enforced prior to the pandemic and is ingrained into the safety of climbing facilities,” he said.  

Top Out Climbing also requires facemasks inside their facilities, where high ceilings of the minimize concentration of aerosols and fresh outside air is continuously being circulated throughout the facility using a combination of access doors, large industrial fans and ceiling skylights.

Currently, only members and prepaid punch pass holders are allowed into Top Out, though climbers joining this climbing wall can gain access by choosing a one-month introductory membership.

Yoga studios are also implementing safety protocols

Yoga Yoga in Newhall installed Hepa filters, humidifiers and hand sanitizing and disinfection stations in their studio, or Shala, to ensure a healthy environment for their staff, teachers and students. 

Danica Lynch, of Yoga Yoga, told The Signal she’s staying current with guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Her team creates social distancing spaces, as well as outside air flow by opening doors. Lynch also sanitizes the studio after every class.

“Students attending yoga classes should bring their own yoga props, such as a yoga mat, blocks, bolster, yoga strap or any props they feel will provide the best support and comfort for their personal practice,” Lynch said.

Rachel Cosgrove owns Results Fitness in Newhall. Social distancing is an important part of her COVID safety set up.

“We’ve gone an extra step to set up social distanced spaces, or pods, where each client basically has their own gym while still enjoying the camaraderie of training in the same room with other people in a gym environment,” she said, noting that Results Fitness uses hospital grade air-filtration systems in each room and conducts temperature checks as gym patrons enter the facility.

More information about Gervais Dance Studio is located at 26017 Huntington Lane, Unit D, Valencia and (661) 295-5794.

Top Out Climbing is located at 26332 Ferry Court, Santa Clarita. They can be reached by phone at (661)  288.1813.

For more information about Yoga Yoga, it can be found at 24421 Walnut St., Santa Clarita or call them at (661) 222-7777.

Results Fitness is located at 24420 Walnut St, Newhall, and can be reached at (661) 306-3131. 

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