A new normal at the YMCA

Jul 6, 2020

Gleason Family YMCA members returned to a new normal of working out with individual spray bottles, pre registered workout times, masks, and social distancing on Monday, July 6. 

According to Director Debbie Fringuelli, the YMCA closed in mid-March, and has since been reopening in phases. 

As of July 6, members can now register for hour-long sessions in the wellness center and indoor pool, although there are a limited number of spots available to allow for proper social distancing. 

The pool can accommodate eight lap swimmers at a time, and the wellness center can hold about 16 people per session. 

When members check in for a workout in the wellness center, they are each given a spray bottle to disinfect equipment after each use. After the workout is over, staff clean the bottles before giving them to another member. Staff also disinfect equipment in between use. 

Members are allowed to take their masks off while doing an exercise, but they have to put them back on while walking around the gym, or going to their next station. 

There is also a clearly marked entrance and exit to the gym to limit crowding at the doors. Members are also asked to only use water fountains to fill their bottles, rather than drinking directly from them. Some of the machines are not available for use because they are too close to other workout stations to allow for proper distancing.

Justin Bennett stayed to do his own workout in the afternoon after working his morning shift at the Y. 

He said that wearing a mask during workouts is inconvenient, but necessary. “It’s definitely different, but it’s one of the sacrifices you have to make,” he said.

One thing that was a challenge though, was holding back his excitement at seeing his coworkers and friends at the gym again. 

“You see your gym buddies, and you want to sprint right at them,” he said, but because of social distancing, handshakes and hugs need to be put on hold for now.

Bennett added that employees put in a lot of “behind the scenes” work to get ready for the reopening. “There wasn’t really any dead time, we were always working to make this place better,” he said. 

Senior Program Director Lu Brito said that he held several staff training sessions before reopening the wellness center to make sure that the facility would be disinfected properly to keep both members and staff safe. 

On July 6, he said that everyone at the gym had been understanding of the new gym protocols. 

“We all have to do our part to keep each other safe,” he said. 

Others in the gym on Monday afternoon said they were happy to be back, and that the YMCA had made its new protocols easy to understand and practice during workouts. 

In the indoor pool, swimmers are assigned to a lane, and given about 45 minutes to swim laps. Fringuelli added that swimmers stagger out which side of the pool they start on, to prevent groups of people sitting right next to each other by the pool. Swimmers must also stay in the same lane during their workout.

The basketball court is closed for now, but Fringuelli said that it will likely be open with some restrictions soon. Members will be able to reserve a hoop to practice their shooting. Family members will be allowed to play together, but pickup games will be off limits.

Fringuelli said that as time goes on, the Gleason Family YMCA will continue to evolve to new guidelines to adapt to the “new normal” allowing people to enjoy the facility and its programs, while keeping members and staff safe.

Active members can reserve a spot for the wellness center or pool, by calling the YMCA at 508-295-9622 or going online at ymcasouthcoast.org.