Under new guidelines, YMCA begins reopening branches


WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — As the state of Rhode Island moved into Phase 2, gyms and fitness studios were allowed to start reopening.

On Thursday, several YMCA locations began welcoming back members including Bayside, Kent County and South County.

They’ll be open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays and 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekends.

“We’ll probably make mistakes the first day like anyone else, but we believe we’ll correct them as fast as we can and make sure we’re looking out for the health and wellness of our members,” Greater Providence YMCA CEO Steven O’Donnell said.

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“Some of the signs will look like this: ‘machines not in use,'” he added while giving Target 12 a tour to show how the YMCA is following the state’s new safety guidelines designed to protect members and staff.

“We have to make sure we have the social distancing,” O’Donnell said. “We have to make sure the capacity … we only have 25 percent capacity that comes in the building.”

O’Donnell said the facility is only open to members right now, but that doesn’t mean you can’t sign up.

“We’ll accept new members, but there’s a process you have to go through,” he said.

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To use any of the machines or workout equipment, you’ll first have to make an appointment.

“When you walk in the building, you scan in so we know who you are,” O’Donnell explained. “When you walk into a separate studio, we know who took that class, so if something happens a day or two later, we have a record of it that we can follow the guidelines.”

When you walk through the Warwick facility, you’ll see signs posted throughout the building and markers on the ground.

“We’re directing people to stay basically to the right and leave to your left,” O’Donnell said.

In some rooms, the machines are spaced six feet apart.

“If you choose to go in a room that’s mask-only, you have to wear your mask and all those machines will be divided by six feet,” O’Donnell said, adding that in other rooms, the equipment is 14 feet apart.

“We’re assuming that people will take their masks off for cardiovascular. It’s what most people do athletically,” he noted. “We’ve already made that 14 feet safe distance around those machines.”

“The only reason they’ll take it off is if it’s extensive cardiovascular. There will be signs telling them that,” O’Donnell added.

He said the Y has other protocols in place to help keep everyone safe.

“We have a system for free weights,” O’Donnell said. “If you’re using free weights, when you’re done, you have to put those free weights in a location that’s marked off. Until our staff cleans them, they can’t go back online.”

He also said cleaning happen throughout the day.

“Everything is cleaned from top to bottom,” O’Donnell said. “The machines get cleaned as well as the floors get mopped and sanitized. And not just typically cleaned, they’re sanitized with things that kill bacteria and also things that kill viruses.”

Members will be asked to wash their hands and use hand sanitizer, according to O’Donnell, and the cleaning will continue after hours.

“Every night when we’re done and close our doors, we have a company that’s going to come in and clean it again,” he said.

Workout classes will be held but people will be spaced out to maintain social distancing.

Bathrooms will remain open, but the locker rooms and showers won’t be.

“Whatever you have, you bring in with you and you carry it through the facility,” O’Donnell said.

He also mentioned that members need to bring towels as well as water since the water fountains won’t be available for use.

O’Donnell said staff members will be in each room to help guide people.

At three of the Y’s branches, they’ve set up space outside the building for classes.

“We’re lucky, here in our facilities, we have brand new HVAC systems which create great air flow, but outside training is the way to go in the summer,” O’Donnell said. “So if it works, and the rest of the summer, maybe into the fall we’ll continue to do outdoor training.”

The East Side and Cranston facilities will reopen Monday along with the pools.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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