Hitting the gym was among the many day-to-day routines disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic. But Monday, Galveston County residents got that piece of their lives back with the limited reopenings of their favorite workout spots.
Under a phased reopening plan for the state, Gov. Greg Abbott announced May 5 that gyms could be opened at 25 percent capacity on May 18.
Patrons Monday were greeted at the door with temperature checks and hand-sanitation stations.
Before gyms were closed out of fear of the spread of COVID-19, Patrick O’Keefe of San Leon said he’d hit the gym three to four times a week. During the shutdown, O’Keefe’s fitness regimen slipped, and he was pleased to be back in the gym as he worked out at The Force Fitness gym in Bacliff, he said.
“It’s tough to stay motivated when you don’t have a gym or equipment to work out with,” O’Keefe said. “I’m going to try and hit it every day for at least a month to get back in shape.”
The Force Fitness reopened with a maximum capacity of 40 people at a time in the building. While the gym did not have to turn anyone away, owner Cody Black said members were eager to get back in to work out.
“A lot of people have been champing at the bit to get back in here,” Black said. “We’ve had a few people who have been scared and have asked to keep their accounts frozen or have absolutely canceled their accounts. But, for the most part, everybody has been really receptive to opening the place back up.”
The state allowing gyms to reopen at 25 percent capacity with strict sanitation and social distancing measures was not only a boost for privately owned gyms, but also for youth sports academies and city recreation centers.
The Absolute Volleyball Academy in Dickinson on Monday held its first practices since the shutdown but not before the young athletes passed through checkpoints that included temperature testing, hand-sanitizer stations and shoe cleaners. The academy’s gym was permitted a maximum capacity of 80, but operators are inviting only 60 athletes at a time for practices. About 40 went in Monday, co-director Katy Garza said.
“We’re going to go above and beyond to help make people feel safe and to keep people safe,” Garza said.
A few more than 60 patrons had visited the recreation center at Hometown Heroes Park in League City by Monday afternoon. Along with temperature checks, masks were required in the common areas and class times were staggered to minimize interactions and to allow time for staff members to clean each classroom between sessions, League City parks and recreation manager Kenny Walsh said.
“People were really compliant and were happy to be here,” Walsh said. “It was very pleasant and went very smoothly. I thought it went really well.”
Also happy to be back at the center was the staff, Walsh said.
“It was a good day; we saw people we hadn’t seen in two months,” Walsh said. “We’ve created a family atmosphere out here.”
The McGuire-Dent Recreation Center in Galveston saw a typical ebb and flow of busy times and not-so-busy times, Galveston parks and recreation director Mario Rabago said.
“It’s been going very well,” Rabago said. “There’s been a lot of positive feedback. People couldn’t wait to come back, and we couldn’t wait to have them. It’s a little different, but it’s been a great day for us.”