Judging from the comments made by many people on social media, one would have expected a 'stampede' when fitness centers and gyms  re-opened in Benton and Franklin County. However as we start the second week of the re-opening, that does not appear to be the case.

Planet Fitness has a corporate "crowd meter" on their app (very useful) that lets people see how crowded their facilities are. It's based upon which gym your home registration is at.  Mine is Kennewick. PF in Kennewick is allowed a max of 75 persons at any given time. So far, the highest the crowd meter has gotten is just past half capacity (we've been watching it). The meter is designed to save you a wasted trip, if you see it's 'full' you can come at another time.

A call Monday to the Columbia Basin Racquet Club (CBRC)  and fitness center in Richland also revealed they are '"nowhere near" normal traffic numbers.  We're hearing similar stories from a few people who attend other gyms.

HOWEVER, this does not mean people won't be coming back. CBRC told us national trends showed a sluggish start in  many other states who opened long before us. The fitness industry saw about a 30 percent of 'normal' return at the beginning, but now those numbers are approaching 60-70 percent of pre-COVID numbers; and all indicators are they will keep rising.

We in B-F Counties are in that "30 percent" beginning phase. Granted, there are people who purchased extensive home gym equipment in March-April-May and have opted to continue that way.

And yes, there are some people who are at higher risk of COVID who've decided to stay away. We do know of a few who, while healthy, are worried to the point where they won't go to gyms or some other public venues anymore.

But local owners-operators-workers fully expect the numbers to continue to grow. We're just so far behind most states trend wise, because we've been one of the most locked down areas in the U.S. For example, back in July, over two months ago, we were in Pullman and saw the PF there was open.

So, enjoy the 'space' and smaller numbers at your gym for now, because they will continue to grow. Would be a good time to take advantage of this opportunity to rebuilt your fitness before everyone else decides to 'get off the couch' and come back as well.



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