How salons, gyms plan to re-open after coronavirus closures

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When restrictions are lifted and you can finally venture outside to cut those overgrown bangs, don’t expect business as usual at your local salon.

In fact, things might look a little different at your gym or nail parlor, too.

Business owners in the beauty and fitness industry, deemed “non-essential” by Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb’s stay-at-home order, have pondered how to operate once life begins to return to normal. 

That may mean a plastic shield between you and your manicurist. Or yoga mats placed exactly 6 feet apart at the gym.

“It’s pretty much consumed my every waking moment of thinking for the past couple of weeks,” Kelli Morgan, who owns the Fit Flex Fly with her husband Mark, said of planning how to re-open.

Anna Rode, coaching and programming director for Naptown Fitness, prepares to lead a bodyweight workout from her Indianapolis home via Zoom software on Thursday, April 23, 2020.

This week, Morgan ventured to her gym in northern Indianapolis with a measuring stick in hand. She wanted to see how many yoga mats and how much equipment could conceivably fit into one teaching area with social-distancing measures considered. 

The answer: 10, half of the usual 20 or 25 people in a class.  

“Now with this new normal, I feel like we’re going to have to create more of a, ‘This is your 10-by-10 square that you’re going to have to stay in,’ ” Morgan said. ” ‘Here’s your cardio equipment, here’s your strength equipment, and you don’t move out of this space until class is over.’ “

New gym standards

As they wait for direction from the governor’s office on how and when to re-open, business owners are looking to the state of Georgia to see how it is slowly coming back to life.

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration also has operational guidelines for industries based on their level of risk.  

But pandemic practices could create new standards.

Fit Flex Fly, which began offering Zoom workout classes, will likely continue to do so. The online classes have already expanded the gym’s customer base, Morgan said, exposing them to clients they typically would not have — even one in Switzerland.

Naptown Fitness, which offers yoga, CrossFit and fitness classes at multiple locations, also will keep its virtual classes for those who still wish to stay home for safety. 

“Some people really do want that virtual platform,” said co-owner Jared Byczko. “Still others want to get to the physical space. We might even have staff members and coaches that don’t feel quite comfortable coming back yet.”

Nail salon changes

While gyms anticipate reduced class sizes and significantly more time in between sessions to clean and clear out the space, City Nail Bar plans on having plastic shields for manicurists. 

Owner Jody Alexander bought eight of them, one for each nail station.

“It’s tough because we are more intimate with our clients,” she said. “But (we’re) definitely taking extra measures with the guard and the shield and face mask and gloves.”

But Alexander noted that she also does not want to take needed masks and gloves away from essential businesses. 

“Everyone is dying to get their hair done and their nails done,” she said. “But at what point is it going to be safe?”

Hair and spa

Meanwhile, Amberly Lopez of Delaware Blu Salon and Spa has looked across the country to determine best protocols for reopening. 

“I think the guest experience won’t be as warm as we have had in the past,” she said. “We’re going to ask that guests either stand outside or stay in their cars until it’s their turn to come in.”

Just like gym owners, Lopez is limiting the number of clients — reducing her four stylists to two and reducing pedicures to one at a time.

She’ll also ask clients to keep their personal items in their car and keep a credit card on file instead. 

Stylists will wear a cape and a mask for protection, changing into clean clothes when they arrive and when they leave. 

“I think things will drastically change,” Lopez said. “And who knows — this may become the new normal.”

Follow IndyStar reporter Amelia Pak-Harvey on Twitter @AmeliaPakHarvey.

This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: Coronavirus aftermath: How hair salons, gyms may look

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