Just over 5 months into our “new normal” of living during a global pandemic and chances are we still may have some questions and need clarifications. While we know this may be needed on many fronts today, we are looking at the executing orders for fitness facilities and how that affects our community, our friends, family and maybe even yourself. We will also look at how you can still commit to a healthy lifestyle while following these guidelines.

You may find yourself wondering, “what is an executive order” anyway and can my governor call the shots?  Well, to your second question, YES! To the first, That National Governor’s Association (https://www.nga.org/governors/powers-and-authority/)  states, “Governors, all of whom are popularly elected, serve as the chief executive officers of the fifty states and five commonwealths and territories…The authority for governors to issue executive orders is found in state constitutions and statutes as well as case law, or is implied by the powers assigned to state chief executives. Governors use executive orders—certain of which are subject to legislative review in some states—for a variety of purposes, among them to: trigger emergency powers during natural disasters, energy crises, and other situations requiring immediate attention; create advisory, coordinating, study, or investigative committees or commissions; and address management and administrative issues such as regulatory reform, environmental impact, hiring freezes, discrimination, and intergovernmental coordination.”

Ok, we got it – they can make executive orders, but does that mean they are essentially new laws? The same website states, “Executive orders issued by state governors are not the same as statutes passed by state legislatures but have the force of law, as in the federal system.” In short, yes, these are laws and are to be respected, observed and followed just as much as other laws.

What type of executive orders (laws) are in place for gyms and fitness facilities? Buckle up, it’s a long list: you can also access it at: https://accd.vermont.gov/sites/accdnew/files/documents/Gyms%20Fitness%20Reopening%20Plan.pdf

These are just some of the guidelines we want you to be mindful of if you are participating at a gym/fitness facility/dance studio or thinking about joining one:

  • Maintain social distancing of a minimum of 6′ at all times, more space depending on the amount of activity and personal space required.
  • Rule of thumb: limit capacity to 25% of normal operations and/or fire code. Allow 200-600 sq. ft. per person depending on the amount of movement in the space.
  • For fixed position classes/activities, minimum 6’ must be marked on the floor for the participant and maintained there throughout.
  • Face coverings are worn until class begins and when class ends.
  • Face coverings must be worn during weightlifting activities in which a minimum 6’ distance cannot be maintained (i.e. spotting)
  • Participants will enter/exit classroom while maintaining a minimum of 6’ physical distance
  • All equipment must be cleaned by staff or instructor prior to the next class; before and after each use of individual training sessions.
  • All equipment in the facility will be cleaned on the hour by designated staff and or health monitor
  • Must bring personal items (towels/water bottle/mat)
  • No use of showers, lockers, etc.

And these are just to name a few!

As you may have guessed we can tell you these orders/laws, but we aren’t the executive order police. We want to help educate and empower you to make the safest and healthiest decisions not just for you but also for all those who you might be around. If you care for your elderly parents you might want to rethink joining a gym that doesn’t follow suit, if your child has certain health conditions you might want to rethink that group class with no masks. It’s important to also think about what you might be bringing to a group gathering. If you have had house guests from a hot zone or have been traveling to areas not in a green zone, you want to take on the responsibility of staying home and staying safe until you have quarantined your 14 days without symptoms or waited for 7 days and had a negative Covid test result.

Are we saying you get a free pass to skip healthy activities like exercise? NO!

Then how can you stay safe, yet fit and healthy?

First of all, we have a completely virtual studio for you here at The Wellness Center, as our commitment to the community to offer fun, health and fitness continues as we have for over 38 years. You can also set up a small workout space right in your home! Grab a fan, a mat and some weights and you have your own studio. If you don’t have a mat, use a blanket! No weights, no problem  – you can use soup cans, water jugs or make your own by filling containers with sand. It may take a little creativity or investment but staying smart, safe and active may also mean staying home or exercising with only your inner circle of contacts outside. We are offering everything from 5-minute meditations you can do at your desk to a full-body workout you can do in your living room. You may also opt for outdoor activities while the weather still allows. If you are looking for support, we are here to help anytime: mhoadley@nchsi.org or 334-5566. While there are so many new orders/laws in place, remember it’s not illegal to work out (SAFELY!)


Mary Hoadley

Director of The Wellness Center