The Media School

COVID-19 changes safety protocol in Bloomington gyms and studios

December 3rd, 2020 by
Photograph by Caroline Theil

MiKenzie Woods is a member of Orangetheory Fitness. While the gym has had to change protocols due to COVID-19, Woods feels safe knowing her health is being put first.

MiKenzie Woods is an Orangetheory Fitness member and an IU student who attends workout classes Bloomington. When seasonal breaks approach, she continues attending in Granger, her hometown.

Woods remembers being in her class at home while the instructors announced it was the last Orangetheory session until further notice, due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

“They closed really quick,” she said. “I was actually in a class in my hometown, and they announced it while I was working out that we were the last class. They were cancelling the rest of the day, and that was at the very beginning of March right when it all happened.”

Woods, along with local gym owners and operators, has experienced a shift in normal fitness routines. Some are focused on providing a clean and safe environment. Others are fighting the threat of keeping the doors open.

In the first week of March, bars, office buildings, gyms and studios, like Orangetheory Fitness and Ekah Yoga, were closed due to the pandemic.

Bloomington Orangetheory owner Lyle Feigenbaum has an abundance of guidance to follow from the state of Indiana.

“Everyone had to shut down,” he said. “We shut down on March 17. The state would let you know when you could reopen. The first available date was on May 23, but we chose to wait until June 1.”

Photograph by Caroline Theil

In between classes at Orangetheory, members are instructed to wait outside while being socially distant. This allows members to be safe while the gym is being cleaned.

Orangetheory worked closely with the infectious disease specialist Dr. Cole Beeler at Indiana University to ensure safety for the gym members.

“It was amazing,” said Feigenbaum. “He said this is how the virus works, and everything he has told us back in April, has held true today.”

Feigenbaum said it all starts with safety, and at Orangetheory, that’s what everything is all about.

“He gave us the confidence in not only how we can safely reopen the studio, but how we can live our lives and not in fear,” he said. “It makes people very comfortable to know safety is our number one concern.” 

Orangetheory has a handful of protocols in place to ensure safety to both employees and members.  

“When you come in, you have to wait outside about eight feet apart,” said Feigenbaum. “You have to do a wellness check before you come in and a temperature check.”

The studio provides wipes and disinfectant stations for everyone who enters. This ensures members are wiping down machines before and after use.

“Then we go in and clean in between class,” said Feigenbaum. “And then deep clean every night.”

Woods said she feels safe while working out in Bloomington.

“They are really good about cleaning between all the rotations, so I feel like everything is super sanitized,” she said. “They are doing a lot to ensure all of our health is in good shape.”

“They are doing a lot to ensure all of our health is in good shape.”  – MiKenzie Woods, member at Orangetheory Fitness

Crystal Olry, part owner of Ekah Yoga has followed a different approach in how the studio is run.

“Within a confined space, people were going to have a really hard time finding that peace,” she said. “So, we jumped over to Zoom right away, which was able to help us sustain our members virtually.”

Olry said Ekah is experiencing trouble staying open throughout the pandemic.

“We are having a bit of difficulty right now being our financials are a little low,” she said.

Because of this, Olry has had to make some tough decisions. She’s prepping to ask teachers who have full-time jobs or don’t live off the yoga incomes if they could donate their time the next couple of months.

“We are applying for a grant through the city,” she said.

While COVID-19 has impacted the studio in many ways, Olry said things are still unstable. But she remains hopeful.

“I keep saying I think we are starting to see the fog at the end of the tunnel,” she said. “The sun is still there. We are making our way through this coronavirus, this pandemic, and things are starting to get back to this new normal.”