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As Gyms Reopen In Texas, Many Details Are Left To The Owners

Breath and Body Yoga in Tarrytown is reopening Monday, but the instructors will still be on Zoom.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon
Breath and Body Yoga in Tarrytown is reopening Monday, but the instructors will still be on Zoom.

Desirae Pierce and her teachers at Breath and Body Yoga have been doing classes over Zoom for the past two months. Today, they'll start holding small, in-person classes at the Tarrytown studio.

While online classes were popular, Pierce says, she's excited to bring back an in-person practice.

"I'm hopeful that we can all begin to put one foot forward,” she said. “I don't know if we can live at home for an extended period of time."

Gyms and exercise facilities are allowed to reopen today under the latest phase of Gov. Greg Abbott's plan to restart the Texas economy. The order states gyms can operate only at 25% capacity, and locker rooms and showers must stay closed.

That leaves other details about how to operate up to individual gym owners.

Depending on the room at the studio, Pierce said, only six or seven people will be allowed in a class so they can stay 6 feet apart.

​The instructors won't be there, though. Pierce said she wants to start slow, so they'll still be leading classes over Zoom. Students will follow along on a TV in the studio. 

Pierce said she plans to have teachers return in June.

Tessa Simpson co-owns Austin Kickboxing Academy, which is also opening in a limited capacity today. She said members of her gym typically do a lot of contact training with one another and partner work, but that won't be happening right away.

Instead, she said, the gym will allow 10 members at a time to come in and work on heavy bags that will be spaced out. She said the facility is 15,000 square feet, so she feels comfortable people can work out at a safe distance from one another. 

"We are more so excited in terms of being able to provide a service for people that haven't been doing anything," Simpson said, "that have been stuck at home, or working from home and are real eager to either socialize in some form or fashion, or go in and hit a heavy bag and just let all that stress out."

Abbott announced last month that Texas businesses would be allowed to reopen with limited capacity. The initial phase allowed retail stores, restaurants, malls and movie theaters to reopen.  Salons and barbershops were allowed to open next.

Austin Mayor Steve Adler and former Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt have said opening at this pace  is risky without widespread testing.Austin and Travis County remain under stay-at-home orders and Adler and Eckhardt are asking the community to continue social distancing and wearing face coverings in public. 

Got a tip? Email Claire McInerny at claire@kut.org. Follow her on Twitter @ClaireMcInerny .

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Claire McInerny
Claire McInerny is the education reporter for KUT. Previously, she was a statewide education reporter for NPR member stations in Indiana. She won an Edward R. Murrow award for a series she did there about resources for English Language Learners in the state’s rural school districts.