Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced that gyms and fitness facilities can reopen on May 4 under certain guidelines at his daily COVID-19 press conference.


Individuals must maintain a 12-foot distance while working out or during training sessions. Furthermore, pools, spas, showers and saunas will remain closed.


Employees and visitors will be screened prior to entry. Employees will also have their temperature checked. Entry will not be allowed for those with a fever or symptoms; recent travelers from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, New Orleans or overseas; and anyone with a compromised immune system or chronic disease.


Hand sanitizer must be available and equipment will need to be sanitized after each use. Face coverings will be required for staff and visitors except while actively exercising.


Gov. Hutchinson noted that decisions on summer athletics and youth sports activities will be made in mid to late-May.


Kelly Eichler, an owner of the Little Rock Athletic Club and a member of the Governor’s Economic Recovery Task Force, also spoke at Thursday’s daily news conference.


The Little Rock Athletic Club has created a “Recovery Readiness and Member Experience Guideline” for each of its four facilities to follow and will share it with others who wish to see it.


“The three main parts of the plan are to provide a touchless experience, as much as possible, to maintain social distancing … an area of about 150 feet is probably, for one person, is probably the best area for a class size, for a class member to participate in aerobics or whatever classes they may be taking,” Eichler said. “Of course, the main part is sanitization, and we will keep our facilities as clean as possible.”


Employees will be posted as “health guards” to maintain social distancing and help with sanitization at the Little Rock Athletic Club facilities. Furthermore, nearly half of the equipment will be removed from the facilities to create more space.


Since all fitness facilities are different, Eichler noted that business owners will need to be innovative and creative in effort to meet health guidelines and be safe.


“I think this is the time where we look at our own, specific facilities, recognize what the issues are and come up with creative solutions,” she said.


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