RALEIGH, N.C. — COVID-19 has had a big impact on the fitness industry.

Currently, gyms in North Carolina can only operate at 25% capacity. Also, because of the latest government mandate, face coverings now have to be worn at all times. While this is inconvenient for some, gyms are doing everything they can to stay open and keep everyone safe.

“It’s been a crazy tough year, and I think the narrative that people heard before about fitness being this area where you can contract COVID has changed, and that’s a good thing, so we’re now seeing our numbers ramp up,” says C.J. Bouchard, President of Excel Fitness Holdings, which runs Planet Fitness clubs across the country.

Like all gyms, Planet Fitness has taken a hit amid the pandemic. However, more and more people are starting to come through the doors.

The franchise has had to adapt to the pandemic in many ways. They now offer contactless check-in and a way to see how many people are at the gym through their app’s Crowd Meter feature. Staff also wipe down hot spots, like dumbbells and equipment handles, every 20 minutes. They also use a hydrostatic disinfectant sprayer to sanitize the entire fitness area twice a day, at opening and overnight.

Typically Planet Fitness locations are open 24/7, but now all 70 plus locations in North Carolina have to close by 10 p.m. to abide by the state’s modified stay at home order.

“We do think gyms should be considered an essential business, because they are essential to everyone’s health, but we’re following the government mandates and continuing to do what we can to provide the safest environment for our members,” Bouchard says.

Even though it’s been a rough year for the franchise, and all fitness centers, Planet Fitness has managed to open up four new locations in the state since the pandemic began.