Gyms battle germs as officials consider rollbacks of high-risk businesses

Updated: Jul. 6, 2020 at 5:28 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - There’s a cluster of 9 coronavirus cases that has been linked to an unnamed but temporarily closed Hawaii gym, and Governor Ige said Monday that gyms may be the type of business that could shut down down again if positive tests continue to rise.

Unrelated to the gym cluster mentioned by the state Department of Health, the owners of Egan’s Bootcamp ― Egan and Marcia Inoue ― sent a letter to their clients that a member at their Aiea gym took a COVID-19 test on July 2.

The next day, it came back positive.

After a months-long closure, Egan’s Bootcamp just reopened on June 22. That very same week, the Inoue’s said, a member went to four classes at the Aiea location.

“My reaction was, ‘Oh, God. Why did it happen so soon?‘” said Egan Inoue. “We knew it was going to happen, but we didn’t think it was going to be that quick.”

They say 10 Aiea employees and the members of the client’s household got tested. Those tests all came back negative.

The Aiea gym closed for one night, but has since reopened.

“We have always told our employees when we decided to reopen during this really tough time, it was not going to be if it was going to happen, but when it happened, so we were prepared,” said Marcia Inoue.

“Because we do require reservations, it was very easy to track who came into contact, and they could go get tested. They were given the option they could go get tested and return to class if it was a negative test, or they could self-quarantine,” she added.

At their Honolulu location, Egan Inoue showed off a new fogger device, which is used to sanitize surfaces between classes. Members must stay apart from each other in a designated area, trainers wear masks, and large gym equipment is off-limits.

There are now additional protocols in place, including temperature checks, and members can only remove their mask during the workout.

"You just cannot live in fear. Number one. You do as much as you can," said Egan Inoue.

While government orders do not require masks while working out, University of Hawaii epidemiologist DeWolfe Miller suggests wearing one even when exercising in a gym.

“The more vigorously that you’re breathing, the more than you are projecting these viruses,” said Miller. “You have to wear a mask the entire time, and I would go ahead and say put a shield on.”

But other experts disagree. Dr. Sarah Park, the state epidemiologist, says wearing a mask while working out is not necessary or realistic.

Park says the cases point out that gyms must take extra precautions because people are breathing heavily in an enclosed space. She says gym owners needs to make sure the space is well ventilated, patrons wear their mask to and from their work out space and she even suggests a physical barrier between trainer and students.

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