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Gyms can reopen in most of Mass. today. Here’s what it might look like if you go back

Paola Santander of Medford worked out at  Healthworks in Cambridge on Monday.
Paola Santander of Medford worked out at Healthworks in Cambridge on Monday.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

Today marks the first day most Massachusetts residents can hit the gym again. Under Phase 3 of Governor Charlie Baker’s reopening plan, weight and resistance training, cross training, yoga, martial arts, spin classes, and boot camp training can all resume at their respective facilities — but not without caveats.

(And a note for Bostonians: health centers cannot reopen in the city until next Monday, July 13.)

For those itching to get back to their on-site workouts, things will look a bit different than they did pre-COVID. From stricter hygiene measures to limited group classes, here’s what you can expect under the state’s new guidelines.

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Expect to wear a mask

Face coverings are required at all fitness facilities for all visitors and staff — except where unsafe due to medical condition or disability. If customers cannot wear a face covering during strenuous activities, they must maintain a physical distance of at least 14 feet from the next person over. If customers are wearing face coverings, 6 feet of physical distance is required.

There will be fewer people, spaced out or roped-off equipment, and more plastic barriers

All gyms and studios are restricted to 40 percent of maximum capacity, or no more than eight people per 1,000 square feet. Occupancy counts include visitors, staff, and other workers.

Machines and equipment, including weights, machines, treadmills, and bikes, will be spaced at least 14 feet apart. Spacing can be adjusted to at least 6 feet of distance if plastic barriers are installed.

Blink Fitness in Medford.
Blink Fitness in Medford.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

The same goes for group fitness classes — attendees must remain 14 feet apart, or 6 feet apart if there are barriers installed.

Amped-up sanitation

All equipment must be sanitized between every use. Facility restrooms and locker rooms will also be open, and commonly touched surfaces such as toilet seats, doorknobs, stall handles, sinks, paper towel dispensers, and soap dispensers must be regularly cleaned under state guidelines.

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Lockers must be closed or locked to enforce 6 feet of social distancing, and should be sanitized after each use. Gyms should provide sanitizing wipes near the lockers or in the locker room.

Towels can still be distributed, but they must be stored in clearly labeled (clean vs. soiled) containers, and appropriate temperatures should be used when washing and drying them. Employees also must wear proper protective equipment (gloves and a face covering) while handling towels.

Fans also should not be used indoors, but windows and doors should be opened to increase airflow where possible.

Foot-traffic control and designated workout areas

Gym-goers can expect directional pathways to manage foot traffic: one-way entrances and exits, and one-way pathways. Lobbies and waiting areas will also be closed or reconfigured to dissuade customers from congregating.

Many gyms, per state recommendations, will also designate workout areas to encourage social distancing among guests. Some facilities will limit customers to one piece of equipment at a time if they are using free weights, dumbbells, mats, etc. Customers should also be encouraged to bring their own equipment such as spin shoes and jump ropes. If shared items are used, they must be sanitized in between each use.

Plan to shower at home

Communal and individual showers are closed under state guidelines. Saunas, hot tubs, and steam rooms cannot reopen until Phase 4.

Bring your own water bottle

Water fountains should be used for refills only.

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Check-in with your gym or studio for announcements

Many health centers are implementing their own additional standards, such as touchless pay and pre-registration policies. Planet Fitness, said it plans to open “the majority” of its 75 Massachusetts locations on Monday. Boston Sports Clubs is also opening a number of locations.


Information from previous Globe coverage was used in this report.



Brittany Bowker can be reached at brittany.bowker@globe.com. Follower her on Twitter @brittbowker.