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Gyms and Yoga Studios Given Go-ahead to Re-Open May 26

Nancy Alkire Nancy Alkire Gyms and Yoga Studios Given Go-ahead to Re-Open May 26Geode Yoga, in the Hocking Hills area, is uncertain on re-opening. Photo by Marci Hedderson-Carroll.
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“We are ready to open on the 26th,” says Alex White of Peak Human Performance.  He as well as many other central Ohioans are eager to open fitness centers on May 26th following the guidelines created by the Ohio Department of Health and the governor’s office. “Yes, we are certainly ready and are excited. It won’t be the same as before, not by a long shot, but it will be nice to start seeing people in the space again and to watch it come alive with activity. We will start with private sessions and small groups specifically to focus on controlled numbers and appropriate spacing.”

“Gyms and yoga studios provide people with an outlet to maintain their health both physically and mentally,” notes Daniel Sernicola of DANJAYOGA.  Many patrons and teachers in fitness centers are ready to grab their mats and kettlebells, but others are uncertain.

Keri Croft from System of Strength is a member of Governor DeWine’s advisory group.  In an interview, she spoke about the hours and hours of meetings held to make sure the best practices would be put into place.  “We want everyone to be safe.  We are really looking forward to re-opening. It will be at about 50% capacity, but we got this.”

GoYoga which has 8 studios in the Columbus area and was teaching over 250 classes a week before the lockdown will be re-opening May 26the with a modified and limited schedule and has plans to ramp up slowly.  “This will give us the time and space to adjust as needed to this new environment and the heightened need for cleanliness and safety,” said co-owner Alissa Rodgers. “It will be interesting and different for sure, but we are utilizing it as an opportunity to innovate and also get down to the essentials of what’s most important for providing a safe, welcoming and fulfilling experience.”

Before the gyms and fitness centers closed, many such as GoYoga, Modo Yoga, Infinity Fitness and Tiger Yoga were already doing many of the things suggested in the current guidelines. “I am confident of the measures put in place,” noted Elizabeth Beattie of Tiger Yoga which also opens May 26, 2020.

Ashtanga Yoga Columbus (AYC) is doing a phased re-opening on June 1, 2020. Per AYC’s Jessica Hunt, “It will strictly adhere to all guidelines.  We will also continue our virtual class offerings for those that prefer to practice from the comfort of home.”

Ashtanga classes are rather famous for hands on adjustments, but all instruction will be verbal for awhile.  “I am excited to teach again,” says AYC teacher Sarah Rae Nelson. “I trust my community members to be open and honest about their comfort level and health status.  I am optimistic that we will continue to be health and safe while provides a really vital service.”

Some notable hot places such as Harbor Yoga and MELT Hot Fitness (which already has multiple wait lists for the 26th) will start soon.  Some other fitness centers and yoga studios are being more cautious. ModoYoga owner, Chad Underwood, would love to open soon, but he worries about the health of his student and teachers. For now, Modo will continue online classes where students have options to livestream classes from other Modo’s such as the one in Austin. Many studios such as Align Power Yoga and PAI Yoga and Fitness which also has TRX, barre and spinning are polling their members and also their teachers for direction.

“It’s a thought-provoking dichotomy for me personally,” says Marci Hedderson-Carroll, owner of Geode Yoga a fantastic space in the Hocking Hills area, “Maintaining health builds the immune system, but putting myself and my teachers at risk makes for crucial conversations.”

“We will be doing outdoor classes for the Columbus Commons in June this year for sure,” says Julie Wilkes of Seven Studios. “But we will be asking both our members and teachers what they would like for us to do about opening the studio again.” 

Jordan Turner Davis of Art of Yoga agrees, “Outdoor classes and virtual offerings through the summer months makes the most sense for students and teachers alike to feel the most comfortable.”

“Also, we want to have a real community in our studio. If restrictions are such that we cannot have that, then I am not sure we would re-open on May 26th,” says Wilkes. “Our number one concern is health.  We are offering 36 live stream classes a week now, but nothing is like a live class!”

Some yoga studios are definitely staying closed for awhile.  Yoga On High’s administration noted in an email that, “It is important to us to be very thoughtful, deliberate and thorough as we put plans in place to re-open.”  They plan to continue online classes via MindBody and Zoom for 2 or 3 weeks to “monitor the COVID situation in Columbus and build our plans accordingly.” Two studios owned by nurses, Yoga Loft and Radiant Yoga and Wellness are also waiting awhile.  “My guiding principle is ‘people first’,”  stated Aimee Pruitt, a registered nurse and owner of Radiant. “The safest way for us to conduct business right now is online.”

Online yoga has been a surprise hit for many local Columbus yoga studios.  Vinny Purtle has hosted Zoom yoga classes many  times larger than his studio, Heartfelt Yoga, could ever hold. “Our Facebook videos have been seen over 100,000 times!” said Angie O’Brien of Harbor Yoga. “It is amazing!  After we re-open, we will move those into a library for people view indefinitely.”  Most yoga studio owners polled definitely planned to continue online classes even after re-opening their yoga studios.

“I am apprehensive and, much like many others, I want to see how things play out with COVID cases spiking or “flaring” up in our neighborhood,” notes White of Peak Human Performance. “I would rather take steps moving slowly forward than have to take large steps moving backward.”

Unfortunately, one yoga studio will not be reopening. Elevate Yoga & Healing Arts closed their doors April 30, 2020, “due to lack of funds since most of the events and workshops and memberships had to be canceled” with the COVID 19 crisis. Owner Sada Nam Singh is shifting his teaching to online and Yoga Well-Being.

When asked about what the next meeting with Governor DeWine’s advisory group holds for future plans, Croft said, “We will just see how it flows.”

“It’s hard because no one really knows what this Summer or Fall holds,” says fitness teacher Rebecca Vois, “I have regular students very eager to return, and I know my employers [MELT Hot Fitness and LIT Life + Yoga] are working very hard to comply with the guidelines and be as safe as possible. I hope to teach [aerial yoga] at LIT; those are small classes easy to space out.  I was really psyched about teaching those classes before all this.”

“What I appreciate is the human need for community,” says Sarah Solanik, a yoga teacher at Modo Yoga and other locations in Columbus as well as online, “I am excited to share that again myself.”

Check with your local fitness center about their individual re-opening plans.  The guidelines for gyms, yoga studios and other fitness centers are to follow are on the Coronavirus.Ohio.gov website.

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