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Most Fitness Clients Want Vaccine-Only Workout Spaces

Most Fitness Clients Want Vaccine-Only Workout Spaces

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As COVID-19 cases surge again, local officials and businesses are finally insisting on seeing vaccine cards at the door. A poll indicates 69 percent of fitness clients already wanted this.

Starting on August 16, residents of New York City will need to show proof of vaccination to go workout in in-door public spaces. Workout centers are among the businesses required to ask their fitness clients for paper vaccination cards or confirmation of vaccination station via apps. Restaurants, theaters, concert venues and museums have to do the same. While many cities are reinstating mask mandates in response to the latest uptick in COVID-19 infections, New York is not; Mayor Bill de Blasio’s order instead aims to increase vaccination rates (New York City’s stands at 66 percent), by making a COVID-19 shot a prerequisite “to participate in our society fully,” as he phrased it.

Some studio chains are voluntarily making the same adjustment. Equinox and its subsidy SoulCycle will soon require fitness clients to show proof of vaccination to get in. The new rule will begin in New York City, to adhere to its rule, but will branch out chain wide. 

Workout businesses that have trepidation about demanding their fitness clients show proof of vaccination should take comfort in one finding: Regular fitness clients actually prefer vaccination-only classes. 

A June survey by ClassPass, a subscription service that provides access to fitness facilities, found that 69 percent of its fitness clients would prefer classes that require a vaccine, and 18 percent only plan to return to studios with vaccination requirements. 

Additionally, a survey from Morning Consult, taken in May – when vaccinated/unvaccinated became a political and lifestyle divide – found that unvaccinated fitness clients were more comfortable going to the gym than those vaccinated, 27 percent to 43. One worries that might keep vaccinated fitness clients from a fitness space is those who are unvaccinated.   

Some businesses that have been holding vaccinated-only classes say they are a resounding success and a comfort to COVID-anxious fitness clients.

Maha Yoga in Philadelphia, started requiring proof of vaccination shortly after the Centers for Disease Control lifted its recommendation to mask in public for vaccinated people. Owner Justicia DeClue said her fitness clients were overwhelmingly supportive and it helped to ease them comfortably into doing yoga maskless and in-person for the first time in 14 months.

“It’s been really positive” said DeClue. “All of our long-term members are so grateful. I am so grateful. To be able to say, ‘You can take your mask off’ was a great day.” 

Fitness clients show their vaccination card and a staff member makes a note on the business’ scheduling software that they were vaccinated, meaning they don’t have to bring the card next visit.

DeClue said it has been an anxious few months. “When we found out more [about COVID-19], I learned that the thing I do, being in front of a room and breathing,  is the worst thing you can do,” she said. Since then “we’ve taken every precaution we can.” 

More than being bothered by being asked to fork over the information, most fitness clients have been glad to not have to worry about the possibility of an unvaccinated classmate. 

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Jasmine Chehrazi, owner of Yoga District in Washington, D.C., has allowed teachers at each of its eight studios to decide their own COVID-19 precautions, as long as they stay within the rules imposed by the city and federal government. “They are the ones putting their lives at risk by being in that room, so we decided to let them choose.” Resultantly, 95 percent of classes require proof of vaccination. 

Yoga District also keeps records of who is and is not vaccinated through its scheduling software.

As for the classes that don’t require proof of vaccination, they are offered to provide yoga for a small number of fitness clients who are not receiving the vaccine because of a medical condition.

“Their attendance has been lower,” said Chehrazi. “We want people who are immunocompromised to be able to practice. They do require masks.”

She said the only complaint the business has ever gotten has been from a fitness client who was upset it allows some non-vaccinated people to practice. 

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