COVID-19 rules for local fitness centers


In this Nov. 11, 2013, file photo, students exercise at the Recreation Center Friday night.

Colton Loeb

Navigating fitness in a pandemic can certainly be tricky. Gyms in the DeKalb area, including NIU’s Recreation Center, have put protocols in place to keep patrons safe when pumping iron.

Those who want to start their exercise journey may be deterred from going to the gym because of the risk associated with working out using shared equipment. 

Gyms will allow individuals to schedule workouts if they wear masks, per Governor J.B. Pritzker’s executive order, according to a Nov. 17 Northern Star article.


Planet Fitness

Planet Fitness, 2560 Sycamore Road, has also put in place protocols to combat the transmission of COVID-19. Team members are required to wear masks, touchless check-in will be used via the Planet Fitness app, cleaning stations will be fully stocked throughout the club and some machines will not be available to allow social distancing, according to Planet Fitnesses website. 

Lyrica Blake, manager at Planet Fitness DeKalb said her first-hand experience running Planet Fitness during a pandemic has been a bit challenging.

“It’s been a challenge quite honestly speaking, but the members that we have here make it a great experience. They have been very complicit with everything going on,” Blake said. 

Blake said the gym used to see 100 members at a time. Now they are lucky to have 30 people in the gym at a time.

As for the reaction to the new guidelines, they are split 50/50. Some people have been following the rules and some people aren’t as understanding of the new policies, Blake said. 

Before a new policy takes effect Planet Fitness contacts members via email to ensure they are aware of the rules. Planet Fitness also posts signage around the club, Blake said. 

For those looking to start working out, just do it, Blake said. 

“I know we’re in a kind of funky situation where everything is kinda up and down, but still, there is no time like the present,” Blake said. “When you come in, just take it easy, go at a pace that’s good for you and just have fun with it.”

Finally, Planet Fitness will use a “Crowd Meter” to let patrons know how many people are in the gym, according to Planet Fitnesses website. 

Here is a video that outlines Planet Fitnesses COVID-19 rules. 


NIU Recreation Center

The NIU Recreation Center is no different from off-campus gyms. It has put in place rules to keep Huskies and community members safe. 

Online registration is required to maintain a maximum of 50 patrons in the facility at any time. Time slots start on the hour for a 50-minute duration, according to the Recreation and Wellness website. 

Patrons should arrive no sooner than five minutes prior to their session, and no later than 15 minutes after the session begins. Patrons will self swipe their one card to gain entry. 

Patrons will be asked to sanitize their hands before entering the facility. Equipment has been spaced apart to maintain safe social distancing. Staff will be constantly monitoring and cleaning machines. 


Anytime Fitness

Anytime Fitness, 2579 Sycamore Road, has put in place an updated set of rules to ensure cleanliness in its gyms. Staff will be taught quarantine behavior, be strongly encouraged to wear masks and gloves at all times and enforce social distancing rules in strict adherence to CDC guidelines, according to Anytime Fitnesses COVID-19 protocol. 

Social distancing rules include keeping the gym at the capacity required by local mandate, no contact training, no sharing equipment and putting social distancing markers on the floor, according to Anytime Fitnesses COVID-19 protocol. 

If a member is worried people won’t follow the rules, live video monitoring of clubs will be implemented by each franchise to ensure protocols are being followed, according to Anytime Fitnesses COVID-19 protocol. 

The gym will also follow a strict cleaning regimen. Staff will clean the whole facility every 2 hours, using medical-grade cleaning products. Bathrooms will be cleaned every hour. Water fountains will be used for water bottles only, according to Anytime Fitnesses COVID-19 protocol. 


The Kishwaukee YMCA

The Kishwaukee YMCA, 2500 Bethany Road, is also open for recreation. Group exercise such as water exercise and karate will be paused in Tier 3, according to a Nov. 18 Kishwaukee YMCA news release. 

Reservations will be required for the wellness center, lap pool, walking track, basketball gym, circuit training and studio and the kid zone and activity center. Reservations can be made three days in advance by phone at 815-756-9577 or by walk-in as space allows, according to the news release. 

All areas will operate at a strict 25% capacity limit, according to the news release. 

Face coverings must be worn at all times including while engaged in individual exercise regardless of person or machine spacing. Everyone ages 3 and up will be required to wear a face mask. Masks are optional for 2-year-olds, and masks are not recommended by the CDC for children under age 2, according to the release. 


Home workouts 

For those at risk or who don’t want to chance contracting COVID-19, doing home workouts is an alternative to the gym. 

Some workouts include simple weight training with 5-20 pound dumbbells. If dumbbells aren’t available, sub in some household items like cans of soup. 

Wall sits are a leg workout to do pretty much anywhere you have a wall. Don’t forget cardio though, running outside or up and down a flight of stairs can be a good substitute for machines like stair steppers or an elliptical. 

Many videos are available on YouTube to help with a workout routine. Wake up with some yoga or try a Latin dance workout

If venturing into a gym is what you want, then Anytime Fitness, Planet Fitness, NIU’s Recreation Center and the Kishwaukee YMCA have protocols in place to protect the public. If a home workout is more your speed, pick from the vast online library of workout videos to stay in shape.