Getty Images | Frederic J. Brown

California Gym's Bizarre Workout 'Pods' Could Spell The Future For Group Fitness

Caitlyn Clancey 17 Jun 2020

The last time I was inside a gym was back at the beginning of March, and since I'd already been hearing about the coronavirus for weeks at that point, I was super reluctant to really touch anything.

If you've ever been to a public gym, you know that the members aren't always the cleanest. There are signs everywhere encouraging them to wipe down their machines after they use them, but that doesn't mean everyone actually does. And even if they do, it's usually just a halfhearted swipe with a towel before moving on to another machine.

As the country continues to gradually reopen again, gym owners have to keep these sort of lazy, unhygienic member habits in mind in order to create the cleanest and safest workout environment possible.

My gym has already started sending out emails outlining possible facility changes in the wake of the outbreak.

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These include limiting the number of people inside the gym at a time, closing off every other machine so as to maintain a safe social distance from each other, and possibly even installing plastic barriers between the machines, not unlike those keeping cashiers safe from customers.

It'll be strange for sure, and I know it'll taking some time to get used to, but I certainly appreciate my gym's efforts to keep all its members healthy.

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One California gym owner has come up with their own way of allowing members back inside while still adhering to social distancing rules.

Unsplash | Danielle Cerullo

Peet Sapsin, owner of Inspire South Bay Fitness in Redondo Beach, recently opened the doors to his facility for the first time since the outbreak hit, and members are definitely noticing some changes inside.

Mainly, the individual plastic workout pods that have been placed all around the gym.

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Each pod can hold one person and has a workout bench, as well as some free weights, inside of it.

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According to Business Insider, group fitness classes at the gym have been cut from 24 people to just nine, and each person who takes part in the class must do so from within one of these pods.

The trainers themselves are not inside a pod, but instruct the classes from a safe social distance while wearing face masks.

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Sapsin explained the idea for the pods, made out of shower curtains and PVC pipes, came from a need for a way to workout without a mask on.

As he told Business Insider, the facility recently tested exercising with masks, but customers found it difficult to breathe.

While looking for alternatives, his wife came up with the idea for the individual pods, which took three days to construct and are about 6 feet wide and 10 feet tall.

According to Sapsin, customers are "loving" their new workout pods.

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Upon arrival, members have their temperature taken and sanitize their hands before being assigned to one of the nine pods.

Instagram | @peetfit

Although they may be loving the gym's new normal, some Instagram users have spoken up on Sapsin's page to point out the inherent flaw with the pods' design. Specifically, that each one is enclosed on three sides, but leaves the back and the top open.

"This makes zero sense the pods are open from the top," one person wrote. "You think the virus goes down."

Another simply said, "This is stupid."

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However, there have also been plenty of people who have praised South Bay Fitness for taking care of its members and putting their safety first.

Instagram | @jinnjuicz

"Thanks for protecting our community and giving us options," one person wrote, while another added, "Good luck with the reopening. Tough times but you’re doing what you need to do."

This Yelp reviewer applauded Sapsin's ingenuity and wrote, "The Inspire team did a fantastic job of providing a safe social distanced workout."

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Sapsin said he's just happy his facility is finally able to reopen again after months of being locked down.

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He said it's been "extremely difficult" not being able to run his gym, and added that he estimates they lost around 50% of members when it first closed its doors. Add to that the cost of a recent expansion, and Sapsin said the gym was certainly in dire need of opening its doors again.

As he explained, "If we had to shut down for two more months, I don't think we could have reopened."

h/t: Business Insider

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