Gyms across county reopen

  • Planet Fitness has reopened with restrictions. In the weight lifting area, patrons are required to wear masks while lifting or using the machines. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • Planet Fitness has reopened with restrictions. In the cardio area, only every third machine is available to keep enough distance to work out with out wearing a mask. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ—Paul Franz

  • Planet Fitness next to Staples in the Big Y Plaza in Greenfield has opened with restrictions. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ—Paul Franz

  • Grady Vigneau of the Greenfield YMCA in the new 'training zone' room which will have fake grass for sports training. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ—Paul Franz

  • Lifting in the dumbell alcove in the expanded free weight room at the Greenfield YMCA. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ—Paul Franz

  • Cardio equipment set up in the gym at the Greenfield YMCA. At present, only every other machine with be used. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ—Paul Franz

  • They have been doing remote classes with video at the Greenfield YMCA. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ—Paul Franz

  • Exercise trainer Phyllis Canon on some of the Nautilus equipment at the YMCA with plastic curtains between the equipment. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • Athol area YMCA File photo

Staff Writer
Published: 7/8/2020 5:18:01 PM
Modified: 7/8/2020 5:17:52 PM

GREENFIELD — The YMCA in Greenfield and Athol, plus gyms across the county have reopened their doors, but not without new safety measures and restrictions meant to keep everyone safe and prevent COVID-19 infections.

YMCA in Athol

Athol Area YMCA Executive Director Jennifer Gordon said the nonprofit opened back up to members Monday and it wasn’t a difficult a transition because the facility had remained open during the pandemic to emergency child care and 20 “vulnerable” men who live at the Y, and the agency did some emergency relief for the community during the COVID-19 shutdown.

“We reopened the main branch on Monday, but we won’t open the Orange branch until next Monday,” she said. “We’ve worked with the Board of Health, the state and others to open slowly.”

Gordon said the Y couldn’t afford to buy plastic curtains to separate machines and people, so it has to do social distancing. Everyone is required to wear a mask, except for outside classes, which it has been running since the end of the state’s Phase 2 reopening.

The Y in Athol performs health screenings when people enter the building and everything is done by appointment only.

“Each person can do cardio, for instance, for a half-hour,” she said. “We allow one person in a smaller room and two in a larger room. The pool is open, but for very small classes and lap swims. We will be expanding as time goes on.”

Gordon said virtual classes are continuing for people who don’t feel comfortable returning quite yet, as it outdoor exercise classes.

“We’re all thrilled to see people return,” she said.

The Y has opened its day camp in Orange to about 40 children, and its overnight camp in New Hampshire to the same number of children, and she said they are doing everything to ensure everyone’s safety.

She said staff has been trained in COVID response so they know what and what not to do when dealing with the facility, members and other staff members.

“Life as we knew it has changed, but that’s the way it has to be,” she said.

For more information about the YMCA in Athol, call 978-349-3305 or visit:

YMCA of Greenfield

YMCA Chief Executive Officer Graydon Vigneau Jr. said the Y has been working with a small, skeleton staff for the past four months, while other staff members worked from home.

“We’re in the process of rebranding, and as our members return, they’ll see the results of that,” Vigneau said. “We’re installing new equipment, we’ve got new programs, and we’ve reduced our membership options from 57 to seven to be inclusive to all.”

The entire facility was cleaned from top to bottom and improvements were made, like refinishing floors, painting and installing plastic curtains between equipment so members can distance themselves.

Everyone must wear a mask and cardio equipment is 14 feet apart while all other equipment sits 6 feet apart. There are no health screenings, but everyone who plans to enter the building is asked not to if they feel sick or have a fever or cough.

The Y has invested in new software that will eventually allow people to become members online. Current members can enroll in classes and see if there is space in a class online.

“People will be able to use their phones for touch-free entry,” he said. “They’ll be able to install a bar code that they’ll use instead of a membership card.”

Use of the pool and group classes, which will start Thursday, are limited, he said, and members who are not yet comfortable joining classes in person will still be able to join them via Zoom at home. New equipment will be installed within the next few weeks, and a “grand reopening” will be held Sept. 1.

“We decided to do a soft reopening,” Vigneau said.

The new equipment includes cardio and equipment for the new Training Zone room that will allow members high-intensity workouts with a push-pull sled, medicine balls, a Keiser machine and more. That room will be ready in August.

Hand sanitizer and disinfectants for machines are available throughout the building.

Jayne Trosin, fitness and social responsibility director, said changes were going to happen anyway, but the pandemic made them happen more quickly.

“We’re looking at possibly offering virtual memberships, as well,” she said. “We’ve been teaching virtually through the closing and some people have seemed to really like it.”

Board President Phelicia Howland said the YMCA will operate on a budget of just under $3 million this year. She said the new equipment 3-year leases and many of the updates to the building are being paid for through the budget.

“We’re a nonprofit, so we don’t expect to make money,” she said. “We’re here to serve our members and the community. We’ve historically been conservative in our spending, but we need to do these things to make the experience even better for members.”

“We want everything to be efficient and positive,” Memership Director Stacie Baumann said. “We want everyone to be able to try everything so they broaden their horizons.”

For more information on the YMCA in Greenfield, call 413-773-3646 or visit:

Planet Fitness

Planet Fitness General Manager Holly Crowell said her staff and the members were “ecstatic” to return Monday after the facility was closed for almost four months.

“We can tell people are smiling even though they have to wear masks,” Crowell said. “We’ve been prepping for weeks.”

Crowell said the entire facility was sanitized and disinfected and continues to be so. While each member is expected to sanitize and disinfect equipment after use, staff comes behind them to clean, as well, so the next person is safe.

“We have a daily checklist we follow,” she said. “We’re following the state mandates, as well as corporate mandates.”

Crowell said all cardio equipment is 14 feet apart and all other equipment is 6 feet apart, as per regulations, and the facility is operating at 40 percent capacity, which means there are no more than 160 in the building at one time.

“There are some who won’t come back right away for different reasons, but they probably will eventually,” she said.

For more information about Planet Fitness, call 413-475-3543 or visit the gym on Facebook.

The Body Shoppe

The Body Shoppe in Greenfield reopened on Monday, though it was open to physical therapy clients throughout the pandemic, so co-owner Liz Dolby said the transition to opening to gym members wasn’t as difficult as it could have been.

“We were already very familiar with the disinfecting process and such,” she said. “We’re following all CDC guidelines, and everyone is wearing masks and using hand sanitizer and disinfectants.”

Dolby said there is a special room where equipment is kept. It is disinfected before and after use, and some of the cardio equipment is blocked off so people remain 14 feet apart.

“It’s definitely safe,” she said. “And we don’t have many people returning, yet. I’m sure some are being cautious, which is not a bad thing.”

Dolby said fewer people tend to work out during the summer, anyway, because they are outside or traveling.

The Body Shoppe has a screening process when people arrive, which includes taking their temperatures and asking questions.

“It’s great to have them back in the gym,” she said.

King’s Gym in Greenfield also reopened, but owners declined to comment.

Reach Anita Fritz at 413-772-9591 or

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