During the two months that Tejas Fit shut down due to local and state stay-at-home orders owner Crystal Uzquiano visited the gym each day to conduct a workout class on Zoom for her members.

At noon Tuesday, just like every other day since shutting down, Uzquiano set her iPad on the floor and positioned the camera. She greeted viewers: “Good morning! We have a lot of stuff to get into today.” 

She demonstrated several movements – a modified squat, a lunge and twist combo, a “Superman” hold that involves lying on your stomach and lifting your legs and arms as if flying through the air.

Tejas Fit is one of the many gyms around Bexar County reopening Monday, per Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order issued May 5. Under the governor’s order, gyms and exercise facilities must cap the number of people inside at 25 percent occupancy. Locker rooms and showers must also stay closed.

Uzquiano said opening under those rules would be easy; Tejas Fit doesn’t have locker rooms or showers, and her class size naturally hovers around six to nine people. She’ll be limiting class sign-ups to six people per session to comply with the governor’s order. 

Body Armor CrossFit owner Ryan Gehrlein said his classes will be limited to 15 people to comply with the governor’s order. The gym also offered online classes each day to keep members engaged while it was shut down – one class at 9 a.m. and one at 5:30 p.m. If members didn’t have the proper workout equipment, they improvised.

“We’d get people to use a duffel bag and put clothes or books inside,” Gehrlein said. “People used water jugs. I saw people with cinder blocks, we’ve seen people use anything they could move weight around with.”

Ryan Gehrlein and his wife Gaby Held prepare to open their gym Body Armor CrossFit on Monday following Governor Abbott’s orders Credit: Scott Ball / Rivard Report

Uzquiano said she did her best to engage members during the mandated closure, but that it’s been difficult. She only lost a few members during the interim, she said.

“I think being a smaller gym, we are a community as well as being not just a place to work out,” she said. “I think that members are more invested in our place than they are in a big box gym where you walk in and don’t know anyone. When you’re here, you walk in the door and you know the other people in class.”

Like Tejas Fit, Body Armor CrossFit sees its membership pool as a community, Gehrlein said. Body Armor will open starting Monday at 5:15 a.m. and class openings are filling quickly, he said.

Not all gyms will have as little change. Only the Schertz location of the YMCA of Greater San Antonio will open Monday, and members will not be able to access the pool, basketball court, group exercise classes, or bring guests. Fitness chain Gold’s Gym is reopening all of its San Antonio locations on Monday, but will not start group exercise or classes right away.

Shannon Montoya, who teaches at Gold’s Gym, said she plans to return when the company OKs group fitness. Montoya also works as a personal trainer and has been working with clients online or in outdoor settings during the pandemic, she said. She usually trains at a smaller gym that can accommodate the governor’s orders easily.

“Even so, my clients aren’t ready to go back to a gym setting and feel comfortable,” Montoya said. “So the earliest I will be returning with clients to the gym is June 1. But that’s still to be determined.”

Gold’s Gyms said in a news release Thursday that all employees will wear masks and gloves, sign-in and payment will be contactless, and people will no longer be able to use the water fountains. Gyms will be fully cleaned between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. each day, as well as sanitized after the gym closes. 

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“We have been deep cleaning and preparing for reopening since our gyms temporarily closed, and we want to be sure to get the playbook right for the temporary new normal inside of our gyms,” said Adam Zeitsiff, Gold’s Gym president and CEO, in a statement. “Because exercise is a key element of staying healthy, we are eager to reopen our doors and serve our members again.”

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All of Gold’s Gyms will limit the number of people working out at one time in compliance with the governor’s mandate. At Body Armor CrossFit, Gehrlein said the requirement to limit the number of people inside his gym at one time worked well since classes never felt crowded before. Unlike Gold’s, Body Armor never functioned as an open gym anyway, and Gehrlein plans to add more sanitizing to its schedule.

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“We were a clean facility to begin with,” Gehrlein said. “I have a floor scrubbing [and] sanitizing machine that costs several thousands. For us, it’s not hard to adapt because we’ve always been clean. We’ll just be even cleaner.” 

Uzquiano said she would also be taking the proper precautions of sanitizing all equipment after each use and even wearing gloves. She’s been ready to reopen for a while and said her members are excited to get back to the gym.

“I certainly don’t want to be reckless in any way, and I am 100 percent prepared to be careful and cautious and responsible, but I am ready to open and I just do not want to spend the rest of my life or the year [in] fear and anxiety,” she said.

Business Reporter Shari Biediger contributed to this report.

Jackie Wang

Jackie Wang is a general assignment reporter at the Rivard Report.