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Local gyms remain vigilant amid omicron surge

Despite the recent spike in COVID-19 cases attributed to the omicron variant, local gyms and fitness centers believe they have a leg up on protecting their members in comparison to when the pandemic first began nearly two years ago.

“Protecting the health and safety of everyone who visits or works at our centers has been a team approach for nearly two years,” said Eric Good, director of Powell Wellness Center in Culpeper. “Staff and members have been wiping down equipment, remaining home if sick or exposed to someone who is sick, and following important protocols such as physical distancing, mask wearing and handwashing.”

Good added that, even as coronavirus case numbers dropped over the past year prior to the omicron spike, Powell’s staff has maintained the same cleaning guidelines as it employed when the pandemic hit in 2020.

“Throughout these many months, we have continued to regularly and frequently sanitize equipment and high-touch areas in addition to our regular daily cleaning,” he said.

Culpeper Sport & Fitness director Tracie Massey said her staff and clients have maintained the same intense focus on cleanliness as Powell’s.

“We continue with regularly cleaning and disinfecting equipment, as well as providing personal cleaning supplies for each member to wipe down the equipment after they’re finished using it,” she said. “We have also continued to wear masks during customer-facing interactions.

“We’re pleased that we have been able to keep our staff and members safe by continuing to strictly follow best practices to mitigate the spread of COVID,” she added.

”We’ve been strictly following the directions as the CDC guides us over the past 18 months,” said Chris Welton, manager of the Culpeper Gold’s Gym. “Members are required to wipe everything down with towels and sanitizer that we provide, before and after they touch services. We also have hand sanitation stations throughout the gym and masks at the entryway.

Welton echoed Good’s and Massey’s sentiments regarding a team effort when asked about the key to his gym keeping a leg up on the virus.

”Most of our members comply with the rules because they support the gym and never want to see another closure like we had in 2020 when the pandemic first hit,” he said. “They understand that fitness is essential for both mental and physical well-being.”

Despite the sharp focus on adhering to proven, basic mitigation guidelines, the gyms aren’t exactly resting on their laurels. As of Thursday, January 6, they’ve added another layer of safety and security for their members and staff per Virginia Department of Health guidelines, which includes all members and staff being screened via temperature scans before entering the facilities.

“Our goal is always to provide the safest environment possible,” Massey said. “We are happy that so many utilizing the gym to begin or continue their wellness journeys, and we will continue to strive to provide them with a clean, sanitary and safe environment.”

“It is our goal to remain open and operating safely for the physical and mental health of our community,” Good added.

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