Before Covid-19, landlords coveted gyms and fitness centers. What happens now?

Gyms, once the darlings of the retail real estate world, are now sitting empty across the Valley. Still, some experts say they’ll be back to form in the not-so-distant future.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic hit the U.S., fitness related tenants were all the rage among the Valley’s landlords. Not only did these businesses not have to take years of expensive construction to open up, but they actually brought people to shopping centers. Other tenants liked having the spill-over business from large big box gyms and smaller boutique fitness studios.

But once the coronavirus crisis started, gyms have had the opposite effect. For all but six weeks or so in May and June, Arizona gyms have been ordered closed by Gov. Doug Ducey, in an attempt to slow the spread of Covid-19.

Indoor gyms where people are breathing heavily as they exercise are seen as high-risk areas for contagion, according to Ducey and health officials. A number of gyms have argued — even before judges — that their precautions are more serious than those of other businesses that are allowed to stay opening like restaurants and salons.

Still, there was a surprise twist in the proceedings Saturday, when EOS Fitness said that it was able to reapply for reopening after agreeing to implement even more stringent safety protocols than those unveiled by Ducey last week. Rich Drengberg, EOS CEO, confirmed the opening in an email to members, according to CBS-TV5. Also approved for reopening was Training for Warriors – Estrella.

“Part of the current reopening agreement that allows us to reopen immediately is that in-gym capacity will be limited (and enforced) to ensure that social distancing is completely achievable, said the email from Drengberg. “Based on the current Covid-19 downward trend in Maricopa County, we anticipate being at an increased capacity level within the next few weeks.”

ABC15 reported that 95 bars that also serve some food, 89 gyms and five movie theaters have submitted proposals for reopening that are being reviewed by Arizona Department of Health Services officials, that could allow them to reopen under more strict protocols despite not yet meeting all of the new benchmarks.

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