DIGITAL EXCLUSIVE: Council Bluffs YMCA welcomes backs gym-goers

Posted at 1:10 PM, May 20, 2020

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (KMTV) — The YMCA of Greater Omaha opened two of its locations in Council Bluffs this week, welcoming back members with new safety precautions in place.

“I think people will feel very safe when they come into the facility," said Leo McIntosh, vice president of Iowa operations for the YMCA. "Always greeting them with a smile. Unfortunately, we’re wearing our masks. Instead of being able to smile, we’ve been making a joke about we're still smiling for you."

McIntosh says along with masks, gym goers are asked to use separate doors for entering and leaving the facility. Guests are given a hand sanitizer wipe before entering the workout area and the staff is making sure equipment is wiped down.

The gym is only allowing 50% capacity to reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus.

“We have not been over our capacity or close to our capacity yet," said McIntosh. "We have a check-in, check-out policy. But we once we got to that point, we have a front desk person that would let people know that they have to wait until space is available.”

At this time, the health and wellness center and weight room are open, but the pool area, steam room, sauna and open gym are still closed. As for group exercise, at this time, classes are canceled but the gym is looking into outdoor classes to maintain social distancing.

Team sports that would normally be starting right now like baseball, volleyball and basketball are also being postponed until the fall.

“It’s really hard. The Y, we’re supposed to be a community serving organization, and we’re trying to do everything we can during the pandemic to figure out what is the right thing to be doing," McIntosh said.

YMCA members who frequent locations in Nebraska will have to wait until June 1 to use those locations.

“We kinda feel like if we can get a handle on the safest ways to open two of our Y’s, that when we open the rest of them, we’ll be even much more safer when we open," McIntosh said.

The YMCA’s Healthy Living Center in Iowa is still closed as it is considered a senior center.

McIntosh said revenue from gym membership dropped by 30% last quarter because of the pandemic, and fundraiser has been slowed down, but he hopes the community will continue supporting the Y and the programs they offer.