A man sits at an exercise bike at a gym. Social distancing and wellness are at the top of mind when it comes to reopening Michigan during COVID-19. (Shutterstock) Exercises are adapting to working out with a mask on.
A man sits at an exercise bike at a gym. Social distancing and wellness are at the top of mind when it comes to reopening Michigan during COVID-19. (Shutterstock)

Michigan gyms are finally reopening but with health precautions. We’ve got the rundown on how to stay safe while you sweat.

MICHIGAN — Nearly six months after they were first closed this past March, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer has officially given state gyms the go-ahead to reopen with strict precautions this coming Wednesday, Sept. 9.

“Throughout this pandemic, we have followed the best science and data available to make decisions that will keep Michiganders safe, and our hard work is paying off. Today we are announcing the reopening of gyms and pools with strict safety measures in place to protect patrons and their families,” Whitmer said in a press release Tuesday.

“I urge everyone who plans to hit the gym after these orders go into effect to take these precautions seriously and do everything in their power to protect themselves and their families. Be smart, and stay safe.”

READ MORE: Michiganders Can Hit the Gym Again June 25. This Local Gym Owner Explains How They’re Reopening Safely.

Returning to a new normal

Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-176, reopening Michigan’s gyms and pools in regions where they were previously closed, and allowing for the resumption of organized sports practices and competitions in regions where they were previously restricted to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Ahead of the reopening, Michigan Chief Medical Executive and MDHHS Chief Deputy for Health Dr. Joneigh Khaldun urged caution for those who choose to participate.

“Individuals can now choose whether or not to play organized sports, and if they do choose to play, this order requires strict safety measures to reduce risk,” he said.

“However, we know of 30 reported outbreaks involving athletic teams and facilities in August. Based on current data, contact sports create a high risk of COVID-19 transmission and MDHHS strongly recommends against participating in them at this time. We are not out of the woods yet. COVID-19 is still a very real threat to our families.” 

Alyssa Tushman, the vice chair of the Michigan Fitness Club Association, had the following to say in response to the announcement:

“On behalf of the Michigan Fitness Club Association, we appreciate Governor Whitmer’s announcement regarding the re-opening of gyms and fitness centers,” she said.

“The health and safety of our members, staff, and the public in general is our top priority.”

Wear a mask even during exercise

In an effort to curb the spread of the virus, gyms and pools that reopen must enforce strict safety measures, including the wearing of masks at all times, including times of exercise, along with increased social distancing, surface cleaning and hand sanitizing.

Spectators for indoor organized sports are limited to guests of the athletes, with each athlete allowed to designate up to two guests.

For outdoor sporting events, attendance will be limited to the number of guests brought by athletes, or a total attendance of 100 people or fewer, including all participants like athletes, coaches and staff.

The MDHHS has also recommended against participating in contact sports at this time, including football, basketball and soccer, and cited an elevated risk associated with activities that involve “shouting, singing or breathing forcefully,” noting previous outbreaks.

Governor Whitmer’s executive orders can be read here, and the state’s public guidance for contact sports can be read here.

Fall football also set to return

The Michigan High School Athletic Association also announced that prep football will return this fall, according to a press release, along with volleyball, swimming, and soccer.

State schools will have the choice of whether to play or not, and are strongly encouraged to put health and safety first. The MHSAA’s Council voted Tuesday to allow for a shortened season this fall, which will include postseason events for the four sports.

“We are thankful for the opportunity for kids to get back on the field in all fall sports, and we appreciate Governor Whitmer providing that opportunity with Executive Order 176 ,” MHSAA Executive Director Mark Uyl said. “We share the Governor’s priorities of putting health and safety first, and the COVID-19 guidance and protocols designed by the MHSAA at her request have led to the safe starts in all sports across the state.

“We are ready to again provide those experiences to students and communities that have hoped for a return of some normalcy. Given the challenges of online education in many school districts across the state, providing sports and a daily routine may be more important than ever in motivating students and providing a safe outlet for physical activity, competition and socialization.”

Additional information on schedules, rules and regulations can be found on the MHSAA’s website.  

SEE ALSO: Michigan’s Casinos Are Reopening. These Are The New Rules High-Rollers Will Face There.

Whitmer extends coronavirus executive order through Oct. 1

Whitmer also signed an executive order extending Michigan’s State of Emergency until October 1 on Tuesday, after an August that saw an uptick in coronavirus cases in every region.

“Last week, Michigan surpassed 100,000 cases and families continue to lose loved ones to COVID-19. With over 6,500 deaths, the virus continues to threaten the lives of Michiganders every day. COVID-19 is a novel virus with many unknowns, but we do know that it is widespread, it is easily transmitted, and its effects can be fatal. We must continue to take this seriously and do everything we can to protect ourselves and all Michiganders from COVID-19,” Whitmer said. 

“By extending the state of emergency, we can continue the crucial work needed to save lives. Since March, I have been committed to using every tool at my disposal to protect families, frontline workers, and our economy from the threat of COVID-19. I urge Michiganders to do their part by wearing a mask, practicing physical distancing and staying safe and smart.”