For people longing to work out and stretch out in the company of others, this week brings a step forward.
In light of the phased Healthy Washington Roadmap to Recovery plan from Gov. Jay Inslee, a handful of health clubs and yoga studios — Evergreen Fitness and Mystic Monkey Yoga in Port Townsend and the Olympic Peninsula YMCAs in Port Angeles and Sequim among them — are reopening their doors.
“We have people signed up to come in and work out,” Evergreen Fitness owner Michelle West said after a quick meeting with Kathy Ziebell, who’s one of her front-desk staffers and a senior-fitness instructor.
Advance reservations are the modus operandi for the YMCA, too: Starting this week, people can sign up for facility tours of the Sequim or Port Angeles facilities online via olympicpeninsula YMCA.org.
CEO Wendy Bart said the Y is waiting for further information from the state before it determines when to reactivate its gyms.
While the Y’s workout spaces in both Port Angeles and Sequim have been closed since November, virtual fitness classes — Zumba, yoga, boxing fitness — have continued, and the swimming pool at the Sequim Y has stayed open. Lap swimming and aquatic fitness classes are offered there and at Port Angeles’ Shore Aquatic Center — all by reservation.
Meantime, other health and wellness businesses, from yoga studios to crossfit gyms, are sticking with online classes, ultra-small groups and private training sessions for now.
Still others remain entirely closed. The Port Townsend Athletic Club has undergone a renovation while running a GoFundMe campaign to pay bills throughout its continued shutdown. The Forks Athletic & Aquatic Club has stayed shut, as has Avail Fit in Port Angeles.
“We’re just waiting this thing out,” Avail Fit co-owner Ashley Liberty said, adding she hopes to reopen later this month.
“It is very challenging at this time, that’s for sure,” said owner Colton Boddy of Port Angeles’ Anytime Fitness, which is open.
Last spring, he and his staff rearranged their gym full of equipment to meet one set of state requirements. Then those changed, cutting down the number of people allowed to use the gym together.
These days, “we have a separate room for one-on-one personal training, with UV sterilizers — medical grade,” Boddy said.
At Evergreen Fitness, the staff said the back-and-forth between phases and mandates feels a little like a yo-yo. Their facility closed in March with the onset of the pandemic; it reopened in June and closed again when COVID-19 cases surged around the state.
Before the pandemic, the club had 600 members and 30 employees.
So when winter loomed, West made other plans.
“I didn’t care if we could open or not; we’ve got to do something,” she thought.
West put together the Jefferson County Health & Fitness Challenge, an eight-week regimen starting this week. With guided walks, weekly challenges and Zoom meetings via EvergreenFitness.net, she aims to support physical and mental health for local residents whether they’re gym members or not.
In Port Angeles, Poser Yoga owner Jenny Houston has found the governor’s guidelines “a little hard to decipher” each time they’re issued.
She hopes to return soon to a hybrid: some small, in-person practices and continued virtual yoga classes.
“I know there are many who are itching to get back to the studio,” she added, “and still quite a few who are appreciating the convenience of practicing from home.
“I’m waiting to see if anything changes — again,” Houston said.
Mystic Monkey’s Jason Calsyn had a similar response. His Port Townsend studio has been offering 13 online classes weekly; Calsyn decided this week to reopen his doors.
Yogis can make reservations for classes up to a week in advance.
“It’s been hard to be apart from the community,” Calsyn wrote in his newsletter.
“Thank you for sticking with us.”