Last week's announcement by Colorado Governor Jared Polis of the state's first COVID-19 cases created challenges for institutions with ties to patients. But the outbreak is also making the rest of us look in different ways at spaces such as yoga and dance studios, gyms and health clubs, which must keep customers safe without scaring them away from businesses where people gather and exert themselves in tight spaces.
Many metro-area yoga studios have such closely packed schedules that staffers seldom had time to do even cursory wipe-downs between classes prior to the outbreak — but most are trying to do so now, according to clients who spoke with Westword. But managing this balancing act can be especially tough during weekends and other peak times, raising questions about the thoroughness of such efforts. At one local studio in recent days, for example, an employee was trying to clean the floor even as regulars were laying down mats.
The problem may be even more acute at gyms, since it's impractical if not impossible for staffers to carefully clean each apparatus between users — though one patron of The Rebel Workout, 324 South Broadway, says the staff there has been so diligent at applying sanitizing substances to the exercise bikes that during a recent visit, they were actually slick. As a result, we're hearing that many health club members are bringing their own sanitary wipes with them — if, that is, they can find them at local grocery stores, many of which can't keep the items in stock.
This issue isn't merely academic. Of the first eight people in Colorado who presumptively tested positive for the virus, one of them was a member of the Denver Country Club. The venerable establishment promptly pledged to sterilize the entire facility using guidelines established by the federal Centers of Disease Control. Here's an excerpt from one passage on the CDC's list of recommendations about preventing the spread of COVID-19 in homes and residential communities:
Clean all "high-touch" surfaces everyday: High touch surfaces include counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets, and bedside tables. Also, clean any surfaces that may have blood, stool or body fluids on them. Use a household cleaning spray or wipe, according to the label instructions. Labels contain instructions for safe and effective use of the cleaning product including precautions you should take when applying the product, such as wearing gloves and making sure you have good ventilation during use of the product.
Nonetheless, visitors to the Denver Country Club's website and social media platforms won't see anything about these protocols — and this is hardly a unique situation. We visited the Facebook pages of each entry on Yelp's roster of the ten best gyms in Denver, including Chuze Fitness, the focus of a fresh Fox31 package about its energetic cleanliness practices, and none of them have posts about coronavirus worries or efforts to ramp up hygiene procedures.
The same is true for Yelp's top ten yoga operations in Denver, with one notable exception. On March 3, a Facebook item from Samadhi Center for Yoga, which has three studios in the metro area, begins with these lines: "We're taking some extra precautions in the studios to keep us all healthy. Take good care, yogis!" Also included is a link to a Yoga Journal article headlined "Stressed About Coronavirus? Here’s How Yoga Can Help." But instead of focusing specifically on hygiene, the piece offers tips for optimizing our immune system (we're told to gargle with saltwater and use a neti pot) and highlights eight yoga poses that will help us sleep better.
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More on the nose, as it were, is a notice that recently started showing up on the app for Denver-based CorePower, whose founder, Trevor Tice, died under mysterious circumstances in late 2016. The snippet advises practitioners who are sick or have flu-like symptoms to stay home and take care of themselves — and, by extension, the yoga community as a whole.
Ballet specialist Barre Forte Wash Park, at 300 South Logan Street, Suite 105, takes the educated approach a step further:
Let's Stay Healthy Wash Park!
With all the concerns about the Coronavirus, we want you to know that, as always, the health and safety of you and our staff is our top priority. To ensure this, our standard cleaning procedures include:
• Daily disinfecting of barres, equipment and props.
• Disinfectant wipes will continue to be handed out after classes so that all. equipment and props can be fully wiped down.
• Hand sanitizer is available at the studio.
To help us prevent the spread of illness, we're asking you to do the following:
• If you are not feeling well please stay home and rest, so we can see you back in the studio soon!
• Please take a moment to thoroughly wipe down any equipment and props you have used. You may always [use] extra disinfectant wipes in the studio.
• Communicate — if you're concerned or have questions, please let us know!
Thank you for joining us in these actions to help keep everyone healthy and help prevent the spread of not only the Coronavirus but all the nasty viruses and bugs that are going around right now.
From a responsibility standpoint, this is the winner, barre none.