Phase 4 of reopening during the COVID-19 pandemic would see gyms reopening with a cap at 50.
Gyms could open July 1 as the city moves closer to Phase 4 amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to a press release issued by the Chicago Department of Public Health.
“Hearing news like this is music to my ears. I haven’t been able to hit the weights since March, and I feel like I’ve gained a few pounds,” said Frankie Sasso, a member of Quads Gym in the city’s Lakeview area.”
Chicago went into lockdown mode during the third week of March, causing many fitness enthusiasts to put their 2020 exercise goals on hiatus.
“Back in January, I had committed myself to lose 15 pounds and putting on some muscle. But when the gyms closed down, it threw my plans out the window,” said Andy Suskin, a member of Equinox Gym in Chicago’s Gold Coast. “I can’t wait to get back!” he adds.
But excitement about returning to the gym needs to be tempered with cautious optimism. Chicago will only be able to move into Phase 4 if coronavirus cases, hospitalizations, and deaths continue to decline.
Dr. Allison Arwady, top doc at the city’s health department said the following at a press conference on Friday: “If people can hang in there and keep doing the things we know work, the things that have given us the progress we saw in the month of May, we will be OK to continue that cautious reopening carefully.”
Then she added, “But if people think COVID is over, we will have trouble here, no doubt about it.”
More than 49,000 people in Chicago have been infected with COVID-19, with over 2,300 deaths. Statewide, Illinois has seen over 134,000 cases and approximately 6,300 deaths.
Arwady did say that the city could move into Phase 4 earlier than July 1, but that would require things to go very well over the next several weeks.
A Mental Boost
Men’s Variety spoke to Adam Kessler, a mental health counselor the in city’s Buena Park area for perspective. Kessler works with clients who struggle with anxiety.
“When the gyms closed, it [COVID-19] unintentionally took away a major coping mechanism for people who struggle with various mental health challenges, such as anxiety and depression. Now that there is real talk of fitness clubs reopening, my clients are over the moon.”
We also spoke with Cameron Mitchell, personal trainer, about what he’s hearing from his clients. “I’ve been swamped with emails and phone calls from people asking if it will really happen. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.”
At present, gyms across Chicago are restricted to only 10 people inside for one on one training. Group classes can occur outdoors but are limited to ten.
Alex Newkirk, an actor and pianist in Lakeview who frequents his gym on the North Side, summed up his feelings about his gym possibly reopening in an email.
“It’s like Christmas and a birthday, all wrapped up into one. Working out provides structure and a routine. I can only speak for myself when I say not having my gym as an outlet has been sorely missed. The day mine opens, I’ll be the first through the door.”