Reopening California: South Bay gym chain moves on from confusion, reopens facility to guests

Dustin Dorsey Image
Tuesday, July 14, 2020
South Bay gym moves on from confusion, reopens facility to guests
Santa Clara County gyms, hair salons and nail salons are officially reopened amid the coronavirus pandemic. American Barbell Clubs members were excited to get back to the gym despite the new regulations put in place.

EDITOR'S NOTE: After this story aired, Santa Clara County released an update stating that gyms, hair salons and tattoo parlors will be forced to close on Wednesday, July 15 at 12:01 a.m. to comply with Gov. Gavin Newsom's new order. Go here for a look at the governor's Monday announcement.

The story, as it aired earlier, is below in its entirety.

Opened, closed. Reopening not reopening. It's been a whirlwind recently for South Bay gyms and gym owners amid the coronavirus pandemic.

VIDEO: Major reopening rollback ordered in CA in attempt to control rampant coronavirus spread

Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered several sectors to once again shut down Monday amid an increasingly concerning coronavirus surge.

We took you inside American Barbell Clubs in June as they were preparing to operate during a pandemic.

That day has come as they now are officially open for business.

For a brief moment in the past few weeks, it appeared as if this day of reopening for American Barbell Clubs on Bernal Road in San Jose wasn't going to come.

California didn't initially give clearance to Santa Clara County to move into a phase that allowed gyms to reopen, but later settled on a July 13 day of reopening.

WATCH LIST: California counties where COVID-19 is getting worse

A major boost to gym employees and guests.

"I think it's great," American Barbell Clubs member Fared Tokhi said. "I think it gives you a sense of normality, Obviously COVID is still out there and we need to be wary of it, but it feels good to you get back into something that feels normal again."

When we took you into the gym in June, American Barbell Clubs owner, Jerry McCall was working under a certain understanding of what the reopening would look like based on other county operations.

RELATED: California closures: What Gov. Newsom's announcement means for every Bay Area county

But, Santa Clara County released much more strict regulations to keep guests safe.

"The game change over a week's time about two or three times, from opening to closing to reopening and then, of course, a boatload of restrictions at the end of the week," McCall said. "Our cardio areas are entirely off limits and our locker rooms have been clipped as well. You can't take a shower or use a locker. We have the ability to capture your login times which will serve as a reservation system. I think with people wearing masks and staying away from one another, we ought to be able to accomplish this."

The workplace has changed for guests and employees alike.

While some changes are easy to accommodate with, like turning off cardio machines, the rigorous cleaning will be more extensive.

RELATED: Here's where the COVID-19 crisis is getting worse in the Bay Area, according to new data

"A lot of the people have been worried mostly about the cleanliness and what we're doing to keep it clean," American Barbell Clubs sales associate Matt Almeida said. "We're cleaning each machine, wiping down seats, handles are the big thing and we have to monitor who's using what dumbbells. Usually, we don't really do that, we just kind of come over and clean up the dumbbells that we can. But now, if we see a 25 missing, we're gonna wait for it to clean it and then we go to the next section. We are just cleaning everything down no matter what it is, even if no one's used it all morning, just clean it anyways. I think it's a better process."

The people that appreciate the new cleaning procedures the most? The guests.

Around 20 or so members were working out when we visited the gym around 10 a.m. on Monday.

It was a lighter morning, but it is expected to pick up.

"I feel like at this gym, in particular, is a pretty clean gym" American Barbell Clubs member John Kallu said. "Everyone cleans up after themselves, they usually clean before or after they use the equipment anyways, so I'm not really worried about that, to be honest. I think it's safe, it's okay, everyone's in masks, everyone is staying distant from each other and it's cool."

"It's up to both the members and the staff at the gym," Tokhi said. "These are all 100% necessary to keep us safe and whatever we need to do to make sure we're safe, I'm all for it."

American Barbell Clubs will remain open despite a July 13 announcement made by California Governor Gavin Newsom that closed gyms in 30 counties.

If gyms were to close again in the South Bay, McCall worries it may be catastrophic.

If you have a question or comment about the coronavirus pandemic, submit yours via the form below or here.

Get the latest news, information and videos about the novel coronavirus pandemic here