On June 29, just hours before his first symptoms, he taught an hourlong stationary cycling class with 10 participants, in which no one wore a mask. All of those participants tested positive in early July, among them a 46-year-old man who worked as a fitness instructor at another facility. He became acutely ill and was hospitalized in an intensive care unit.
Twelve hours before that instructor experienced his first symptoms, he held several small kickboxing sessions and a personal training session. Of 11 people exposed, 10 became infected and tested positive in early July. All 10 developed Covid symptoms, and one was hospitalized in the intensive care unit.
On July 22, the city of Honolulu passed emergency orders requiring face coverings in fitness centers, including during exercise. Before then, gym members could remove their face coverings while exercising.
Fitness centers and gyms have been hit hard since last March, when the pandemic struck. They were among the first businesses shuttered last spring, and now they are eager to welcome patrons back.
The International Health Racquet and Sportsclub Association, an industry group, reported recently that 15 percent of the nation’s clubs and studios had closed as of last fall, and more closures and bankruptcies were expected. The association has been encouraging people to return to gyms, adopting the slogan “Exercise is vital!”
Many clubs have put in place new safety protocols and have taken steps to improve ventilation, upgrade air filtration systems and maximize outdoor air circulation, said Alex Larcom, the association’s senior manager of health promotion and health policy.