Shift Supervisor Geana Silvestri, front, and Fitness Attendant Marvin Espeleta, wipe down and sanitize equipment in the free-weight section of the Paradise Fitness gym in Dededo on Friday, Oct. 2, 2020. In the latest round of lifted restrictions by Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero, gyms, fitness centers and dance studios will be allowed to resume indoor operations, but each will be subject to limits of no more than 25% occupancy load and must abide to applicable Department of Public Health and Social Services guidance. Paradise Fitness, with locations in Hagåtña, Tumon and Dededo, is preparing its facilities to reopen and welcome back its patrons beginning 8:00 a.m., Saturday morning. (Photo: Rick Cruz/PDN)

The coronavirus pandemic continues to have a major impact on the physical and mental health of residents placed on lockdown. After a month off, Guam residents are ready to hit the gym. 

Announced on Oct. 1 by Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero, fitness and gym centers can reopen on Oct. 3 at 8 a.m. The order will also bring the return of social gatherings, worship services, and parks and beaches — but with strict social distancing requirements.

“We have been getting constant emails and text messages via social media asking when we are going to open,” said Samantha Sablan, the owner of Custom Fitness Guam. “The response is really good; people are looking forward to it.” 

The rules and regulations in place from the new order, according to Sablan, were similar to what Custom Fitness followed before the lockdown. Even at 25% capacity, the fitness center operated below the requirement. 

“We are not going to have all of our classes at first and are going to limit the number of participants,” Sablan said. “For the most part, we are not changing anything because we were already in compliance with the rules.” 

Sablan said Custom Fitness’s capacity accommodates 130 people, but during the pandemic, they welcomed 20 people at any given time. 

“We are going to start even smaller this time to make sure people feel comfortable with our safety and cleaning procedures,” Sablan said. 

“For the most part, we are not changing anything,” Sablan added.

Masks required at Paradise Fitness

During the first reopening, Paradise Fitness recommended members to wear masks but the protocol was optional. This upcoming reopening, the center has changed rules.

“Even though masks are not mandated by public health, we are creating our own rules and asking members to keep their masks at all times,” said Nathan Baza, the manager of Paradise Fitness Dededo.

Members must also download the Guam COVID Alert app with bluetooth on, according to a news release. 

Before the pandemic, Baza estimates that Paradise Fitness Dededo accommodated 200 members during prime time. That number dropped to 80 during the lockdown, which may reduce to 50, Baza estimates. 

Paradise Fitness will re-open all three locations for member services at 8 a.m. on Oct. 3. Management has yet to decide if in-person classes or locker-room are allowed. 

Classes create camaraderie

On Oct. 3, Steel Athletics Gym will allow the general public to attend an open house and tour the gym. 

“We have more classes now than we ever had before to meet the demand because of COVID-19,” said JJ Ambrose, the owner of Steel Athletics. 

Ambrose teachers classes that accommodate 15 to 25 members, half the number before the pandemic, during the reopenings. 

Since the gym specializes in group classes, reopening in-person fosters a sense of responsibility for peers to workout together.

“When you are a part of a group, you get the feeling that somebody needs me, and I have to be at the gym,” Ambrose said. 

Without classes in-person, Ambrose said he cannot ensure if members are completing the workouts properly or if some individuals are hindered by access to equipment at home.

Sports center waits on reopening

“I am planning on still reopening but am not rushing to open,” said Jason JD Iriarte, the managing partner of the International Sports Center. 

Iriarte said the reopening plans came as a surprise to him since fitness centers were not informed of a reopening plan beforehand.

“I want to make sure that everything is in line to make sure there is no pressure on my staff, my members, or myself,” Iriarte said.

With the 25% occupancy limit, Iriarte will have to remove at least half of his equipment to create individual workout areas. 

“I am still wrapping my brain around the 25% occupancy because you still have to open 100% to allow 25%,” Iriarte said.

He added that refurbishing plans to the center may stall reopening for another two weeks, but membership signups remain open.

“Like everyone else, I only found out that we were allowed to open today,” Iriarte said. 

The reopening of gyms signal future reopenings, even though the pandemic is still a threat. Although the governor granted a go-ahead, the scene at a fitness center will be considerably different than it was before the start of the pandemic.


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