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Lynn easing back into business

Phase 3 has begun for the state of Massachusetts which includes the reopening of museums, movie theaters, gyms and casinos. Patrons walk into the Planet Fitness on Boston Street in Lynn Monday afternoon. (Olivia Falcigno)

LYNN — Phase 3 of the state’s four-point plan for reopening after the COVID-19 shutdown, which was implemented Monday, allows for libraries (browsing only), movie theaters, museums, gyms, aquariums and racing tracks to open their doors.

Planet Fitness in Lynn dove right in Monday, asking only that its members have their ID cards or phone apps out and ready for scanning as soon as they entered the gym. The club, on Boston Street, also reinforced its objective to be as clean and germ-free as possible.

Caution, however, seems to be the buzzword in other places. Doneeca Thurston, director of the Lynn Museum, said that there will be a soft opening later in July and that she will have to see how the land lies before committing to much more than that. 

And Pamela Sargent of Limitless Fitness in Lynn, who helped her clients stay in shape during the COVID shutdown with virtual workouts, is also taking it slow. She’ll wait until next Monday before opening the indoor gym on Western Avenue, in the Lydia Pinkham Building, and try to have outdoor cardio workouts even then, as “we don’t want people to be restricting their breathing (by having to wear a mask).”

At Planet Fitness, the website said,” The club that’s always been known for being clean is cleaner than ever. And we’re ready to welcome you back. We can’t wait to get moving with you.”

Toward that end, the club has instituted more policies that aim to ensure clients that the state’s COVID protocols are being met. 

The first is the touchless check-in, where customers can use their digital keytags or their phone apps to avoid unnecessary contact. 

The second is cardio distancing. Some cardio and strength machines are not available for use to give members more space to keep their distance from one another. And each cleaning station throughout the club will be stocked with paper towels and disinfectant spray effective against COVID-19. Hand sanitizer stations will also be replenished regularly.

At the museum, “We’ve been thinking of this for a long time,” Thurston said. “We’ll be opening up the LynnArts building this week. We just have to make sure the tenants in the building know what the state’s rules are.”

The museum is looking to hold a soft opening toward the end of July, and it is working with the Lynn Cultural District and Lynn Main Streets to hold an outdoor event, with a tentative date of July 31. 

“We’re still polishing up some of these things,” she said. “We’re definitely going to try to do some more outdoor programming because that’s where people tend to feel more comfortable.

“Also, with a 25-person maximum for indoors, that could be a little tricky,” she said. 

On the other hand, she said, “we need to reopen. We want to give the community access again, and continue the partnerships we’ve had for the last 25 years.”
Thurston said the museum is toying with the idea of having a socially distant art gallery so she can see and gauge where the community is.

“We realize there are those who aren’t really ready to go inside yet,” she said. “This will be the first event that we have that announces that, ‘OK, we’re here. Please come back, and see what we have in store.'”

If all goes well with that, Thurston said, there will be an event in the fall that’ll be more conducive to being held indoors. 

“We will have some bigger-scale type of gala, depending on where we’re at,” she said.

Thurston said the beginning of Phase 3 “kind of caught us all off-guard. The state delayed it a week, and then, with the Fourth, I don’t think many people expected to be reopening. We’re trying to be smart and flexible.”

As is Sargent.

“We started outdoor workouts when we were allowed to under Phase 2,” she said. “We did workouts down the beach, and a lot of people were comfortable with that.”

Now that she can resume workouts inside her gym, she’s gone over the different aspects of that with her clients. 

“Who’s comfortable with working out indoors? What are the protocols that you use before you can even open the doors?

“I’d say probably about half my clients are comfortable,” she said. “So, starting next Monday (July 13) we will open, and shoot for small classes. We’ll keep the beach workouts. Those were very popular. And we’ll work toward getting people back in the studio. 

“The beach is kind of a love it or hate it thing,” she said. “Running in the sand is a lot harder than it looks.”

Masks, she said, can be an impediment. She’d like to have outdoor exercises on the grounds of her gym, if possible, so that clients don’t have to try to breathe through masks while doing cardio exercises. 

“Then, afterward, we can go back inside for strength training,” she said.

Sargent plans on having smaller classes, which she acknowledges can also be less intimidating as well as more conducive to social distancing, “and we’ll have hand sanitizing stations set up. And indoors, you have to wear a mask unless there’s a medical reason why you can’t.”

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