As we round the one-year mark of pandemic life, we have hope. Vaccines are more available and case counts continue to fall. More of you are coming back and that is exciting to see! Yet when it comes to “back to normal”, we want to assure you that we are just as committed to your safety as we were on day one.
When it comes to how and what to open up next, we are using 4 principles as our guide:
- Scientific Community Recommendations
- Current COVID trends and Austin’s COVID Stage Level
- Community Feedback via surveys of both members and staff
- Financial Sustainability
The Next Phase of Re-Opening
We can all agree that we’ve gone above and beyond health and safety standards with the creation of our personal Workout Pod system – a pivot that we are very proud of. It was the right thing to do at the right time, and you prove that daily with your arrivals (air fives!).
Our next phase will remove the pod partitions in our classrooms. This will allow us to add more people to our in-person classes, which are bursting at the seams! Group programs thrive on connecting with others and our instructors are ready to serve more people. Removing the physical barriers also makes it easier to see your instructor and for them to see you.
What Will In-Person Classes Look Like?
While class may have a few more of your friends, the rest of the experience will stay more or less the same. We will still wear masks. Our HEPA air-purifiers and fans will still be on. Where there were pod partition walls, there will be markings on the floor that keep us adequately spaced apart. Alfresco fans: our outdoor classes will continue (the weather is just getting nice!).
What About Non-class Times?
The classrooms will be open for anyone to use for workouts. You’ll reserve a time slot on the app or from the website just like you do for workout pods, but you will be able to easily see how many others are in the space at that time. Pick your spot when you arrive, keep your distance from others, and get moving! Large cardio machines that were in those spaces are being moved to other areas and will open up soon.
Not Just 6 Feet: How to Increase Class Caps during COVID
We are not increasing class caps willy nilly. That’s not on-brand. Our new class caps take into account square footage, air filtration, air circulation, cumulative time, masking, and what FEELS good. Using MIT’s interactive planning tool helps give us science-backed guidance on how many people to safely have in a room based on their level of activity.
Castle Hill Fitness Indoor Factors
The MIT Indoor Safety Calculator has a lot of different variables that you can change to factor indoor risks. When calculating our indoor risk, we used the left side of the tool to customize our room details and human behaviors. Here are the factors that you need to know that are specific to Castle Hill Fitness:
Masking: Castle Hill Fitness will remain on the list of businesses still requiring masks while indoors.
Ventilation: We use mechanical ventilation via our HVAC units.
Filtration: Commercial units have improved MERV-13 filters which are recommended by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). Our Downtown units also feature UV lights in the ductwork. These upgrades combined with our multiple HEPA Air Filtration places us conservatively at a Hospital and General Surgery level of air quality (humble brag).
Our New Limits
In addition to the calculator, we take into account the social comfort level of our community. Just because we CAN fit 33 people in a class of masked people doesn’t mean we will. We are working with our instructors to get their feedback and will continue to ask for your feedback as well. Avid class-takers know the struggles of being in waitlist limbo and so we’re excited to alleviate this barrier.
Based on these factors, our new limits for the class spaces indoors will be:
Pilates Studio (Pilates classes): 8
Pilates Studio (Pilates classes): 8
These new class caps will still keep us well below the recommendations for our studio spaces.
As we start to see a light at the end of the tunnel, we want to assure you that our decisions are guided with your health in mind. Our very purpose is to support your health and fitness and safety protocols are an extension of that care. We are looking forward to “normal times” when they come, and in the meantime, we can’t wait to see some more of y’all’s faces in our classrooms!