Starting next week, Planet Fitness will require patrons to wear masks at all times in its facilities, including while working out. The global fitness chain made the announcement Monday. The new requirement goes into effect on Sunday, Aug. 1.
“As we continue to face the COVID-19 pandemic, amid an ongoing global health crisis, wellness has never been as essential to our collective community as it is today,” Chris Rondeau, Chief Executive Officer at Planet Fitness, said a press release on the Planet Fitness website. “Gyms are part of the solution and a key element of the healthcare delivery system, providing much needed access for people to exercise and stay healthy. Given our leadership position within the industry, we believe it’s our responsibility to further protect our members, employees, and communities so that we can all safely focus on our health, which is more important now than ever before.”
The fitness giant gave additional guidance on the mask requirement in an email to its members, with a link to a video with tips on how to work out while wearing a mask. The recommendations include finding a mask that fits properly, planning time to take breathing breaks during exercise routines, and developing methods to breath at a comfortable rhythm, such as “humming a little tune in your head” to space out breaths.
In both the email and the portion of its website dedicated to frequently asked COVID-19 questions, Planet Fitness further explained the new mask policy. The gym’s staff will provide disposable masks to patrons who don’t have them and wish to work out at the facility. Planet Fitness encouraged those who have medical conditions that prevent wearing a mask or preferred not to wear one to reach out to their local fitness clubs, offering to freeze membership fees for those who wished not to follow the guidelines.
“We’re happy to freeze your membership until we are no longer requiring masks in our clubs,” the gym network said in the email and on its website.
Planet Fitness suspended operations in March in an effort to help stop the spread of COVID-19 and froze memberships fees until fitness clubs reopened. While Planet Fitness clubs around the country have gradually started to reopen and resume operations since May, and some locations in states such as New Jersey and New York have not yet reopened.
Since reopening, Planet Fitness has adopted enhanced cleaning procedures and social distancing protocols branded as “Social Fitnessing,” including touchless check-in and restricted equipment use to promote distance between members.
Prior to Monday’s announcement, some Planet Fitness locations have required patrons to wear masks in common areas, but not while working out. Others have required customers to wear masks while exercising.
Gov. Kay Ivey’s amended Safer at Home order allowed gyms and fitness centers to reopen on May 11. There are more than 30 Planet Fitness locations in Alabama.