George and Kelly Padilla enjoy an indoor meal at Yosemite Falls Cafe in Fresno on Thursday. Photo by Donald A. Promnitz

published on October 1, 2020 - 3:03 PM
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Thursday marked a key turning point in the movement to reopen the economy in Fresno County, as hundreds of businesses opened their doors once again, either with the blessing of new state guidelines or as part of a protest movement.

For those sweating over when they might get to break a sweat, the reopening of local gyms is welcome news.

Fitness centers including gyms, cycling studios, Cross Fit centers, and yoga studios were allowed to reopen indoors thanks to Fresno County entering the so-called red tier on the state’s “Blueprint for a Safer Economy.” Fitness centers are allowed to reopen with a 10% capacity.

GB3 George Brown Sports Clubs gyms opened their doors at 4 a.m. this morning. Sean Clinton, general manager of the Champlain Drive location in Fresno, said that he and gym members are excited for the reopening.

Clinton said that it was tough to hear the lockdown announcements in March. In June, businesses including gyms, bars and wineries were allowed to reopen, but soon after, were closed down once again. That was a tough blow, Clinton said.

There were about 20 people at the gym when the door first opened, which is around the same levels as pre-Covid.

Because GB3 gyms cover a large space, Clinton said that even with 10% capacity, members could still exercise comfortably and safely.

“When you cut out the Rumba classes, the pool, and daycare — that’s a big chunk of people that are coming into the gym that we don’t have that right now,” Clinton said. “So we can operate with the 10% capacity pretty well.”

The gym has been getting plenty of calls from members interested in getting a workout, and Clinton expects a lot more people will call — people waiting to see how the gyms operate after reopening.

He also expects that word of mouth from people going to gyms will influence others to go back in for a workout.

As the sun goes down earlier, and the holiday season approaches, Clinton said that it tends to get busier, and he expects that to continue this year.

The indoor dining area for Yosemite Falls Café in central Fresno is far from packed, but it’s better than the week before.

Owner Manny Perales was one of many restaurateurs to reopen indoor dining for customers on Tuesday. Before that, he was an advocate for a 50%-capacity opening (higher than the 25%/100-person threshold) for all restaurants and stores on Oct. 1. Right now, they’re only seeing customers at about a 10 to 15% capacity, but it’s a good start, and they expect more people to come during the weekend as the word gets out.

“Before, you’d be having a good flow of people going into the patio, but a lot of people didn’t like it because it was too hot during summertime,” Perales said “Then the last couple of days, we’ve gotten a lot of smoke and it’s unhealthy. So right now, they’re excited that they can come inside and order.”

But business is getting steadier and loyal customers — like George and Kelly Padilla — are more than happy to enjoy breakfast and support a favorite business.

“It should’ve happened a long time ago, and I’m surprised that they hung on for so long under those conditions,” said Mrs. Padilla. “More power to them. They deserve to be in business and I’m really happy they got to open up.”

Business is also picking back up for Kelli Torrence. Also a member of the Reopen Central California Safely group that pushed for an Oct. 1 reopening against guidelines, she’s brought back indoor facials on Thursday, which previously had to be done outside. The mornings are slower, Torrence said, as mothers work with their children on their Zoom classes. But she has busy afternoons as a result. And her phone and email have been loaded with backed-up appointment requests.

“October moving into November is looking really good, thank goodness,” Torrence said. “We’ve got a lot of clients who are really excited to come back and see us again, which we are so thankful for — that they waited for us.”

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