After shutting down in the spring, America’s empty gyms are beckoning a cautious public back for a workout. To reassure wary customers, owners have put in place — and now advertise — a variety of coronavirus control measures. At the same time, the fitness industry is trying to rehabilitate itself by pushing back against what it sees as a misleading narrative that gyms have no place during a pandemic.
In the first months of the coronavirus outbreak, most public health leaders advised closing gyms, erring on the side of caution. As infections exploded across the country, states ordered gyms and fitness centers closed, along with restaurants, movie theaters and bars. State and local officials consistently branded gyms as high-risk venues for infection, akin to bars and