Tucson gym ready to reopen after ordered COVID-19 closure

Tucson gym ready to reopen after ordered COVID-19 closure

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - A Tucson gym owner’s strength in cleaning had him prepared to reopen quickly during the coronavirus outbreak.

During an afternoon press conference, Gov. Doug Ducey announced gyms and pools could reopen Wednesday, May 13, with health precautions. Dan Sawaya, owner of Tucson Strength, quickly called his staff in for another cleaning.

“We do have a lot of space in here that doesn’t have equipment, so it’s a little easier," Sawaya said while showing KOLD News 13 the changes in the facility on Speedway Boulevard.

Sawaya had been preparing for weeks ahead of the announcement. Following social distancing and state guidance is a top priority, Sawaya said, after having to shut the doors to his gym for two months.

“I was absolutely terrified that everything I worked for was going to get wiped out," Sawaya said. "There are a lot of gyms right now that are not going to reopen, so I’m happy to have the opportunity to save my business.”

Sawaya said he renovated a few spots in his facility during the closure. Staff also adjusted equipment, made changes to what could be high-touch surfaces and continued in cleaning and disinfecting practices.

[ Gyms & Fitness Providers, with physical distancing and enhanced sanitation - can reopen Wednesday, May 13 ]

“Move our cardio around, make some modifications to the gym to make sure that we are clearly doing our best to keep people safe," Sawaya said. “We’ll be wearing masks when we are doing our one-on-one training.”

While there were already hand sanitizer stations around the gym, Sawaya said more were added. He also decided to adjust group class schedules, which will limit the number of members in an area. Those members will also have to sign a new waiver as they head in to workout.

“Absolutely, it’s a huge responsibility," Sawaya said. “I’m just really excited. A little emotional right now just thinking about seeing everyone after a couple months.”

Sawaya credits his members who continued to pay membership fees, a PPP loan and some flexibility from his landlord in making it through the closure, financially.

“We’ve always taken our cleanliness very seriously here, people always comment on how clean the gym is and we’ve even upped our game even more with the cleaning protocols of the gym and disinfecting the gym throughout the day,” Sawaya said. “That is something we are taking very seriously without members.”

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