YMCA, Planet Fitness stall reopening plan after appeals ruling

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids and Planet Fitness are pausing their reopening plans after an eleventh-hour decision from the federal appeals court.

“We are saddened and heartbroken but our priority has always been the health and safety of our members and staff. We will be ready once we are able to reopen and will continue to communicate as new information becomes available,” the YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids posted on its website.

YMCA was planning to start reopening its facilities Monday with the David D. Hunting branch in downtown Grand Rapids. The remaining six West Michigan YMCA branches were planning to reopen July 6.

Once it’s allowed, YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids plans to reopen in stages. The first phase will be limited to individual activities, outside fitness classes, personal training sessions by appointment and summer day camps and child care services. Members will have access to all fitness and wellness floors, free weight equipment, indoor tracks and gyms.

All YMCA branches will have altered business hours and new health guidelines, including:

  • Temperature checks for staff and members coming into the facility
  • Masks required for employees
  • Masks encouraged for members walking through the YMCA, but not required while exercising
  • Enhanced cleaning of fitness equipment and areas, child care spaces and offices

Before the federal appeals court halted the reopening of Michigan gyms, Planet Fitness planned to reopen its 66 Michigan clubs Thursday morning. The company confirmed Thursday that all of its Planet Fitness gyms statewide will remain temporarily closed due to the court decision.

“We are working closing with our franchisees and will safely reopen when permitted. Upon reopening, (we) will take a number of steps to protect the health and well-being of our team members and members, which include enhanced cleanliness and sanitization policies and procedures, physical distancing measures, reducing physical touch points in the club, and more,” Planet Fitness Senior Public Relations Manager Becky Zirlen said in a statement.

Planet Fitness Michigan Group said Wednesday that like many businesses, it was forced to lay off employees during the shutdown. However, the company said it’s been rehiring and training staff about new COVID-19 prevention protocols, including:

  • Mandatory wellness checks and personal protection equipment for all staff
  • Sick staff cannot return without clearance from a medical provider
  • Limiting gym occupancy to 50%
  • Touchless check-ins for members via the Planet Fitness mobile app
  • Cleaning stations throughout the gym
  • Shutting down alternating equipment and signs encouraging social distancing
  • More frequent facility sanitizing
  • Closing clubs each night for deep cleaning.

All gyms statewide closed on March 15 under Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-at-home order aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19. On Friday, a federal judge ruled gyms don’t have to abide by the executive order and may reopen Thursday, as long as they follow workplace safety requirements outlined by the state. However, the federal appeals court sided with Whitmer on the eve of reopening.