‘Bring Your Own’ new mantra at gyms, yoga studios due to coronavirus


AUSTIN (KXAN) — Local gyms and yoga studios are doing what they can to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus in Central Texas.

No confirmed cases of the virus that causes the disease COVID-19 have been discovered in Travis County, but fitness centers are being proactive to protect their clients from the potential for community spread of the illness.

“We’re doing our best to make everybody just feel comfortable and keep them coming here to be with each other,” said Amy Hogan, an owner of Studio Mantra, a yoga studio in northwest Austin.

Hogan and her staff switched from the natural cleansers they usually use to disinfectants recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to kill viruses. They also hire professional crews to deep clean a few times a week. In addition, they’re recommending people bring their own yoga gear instead of using the studio’s.

“We’ve actually almost sold out of our mats and our blocks and blankets,” Hogan said, “and we had to order more this week.”

Nan Updike, a regular at Mantra for the last couple years, took the advice to heart.

Nan Updike lays out her yoga gear at Studio Mantra on Tuesday, March 10, 2020. (KXAN Photo/Chris Davis)

“I decided to bring the blankets and the blocks after the coronavirus thing came out,” she said, “even though they do a real good job of sanitizing everything here.”

The studio is also eliminating the use of disposable paper cups at the water fountain and encouraging people to bring their own water bottles instead. Mantra’s bathrooms are now also equipped with paper towels instead of reusable cloth ones.

In an email, Pure Yoga Texas told its clientele across all three of its central Texas locations it’s used the same disinfecting technique a lot of hospitals use for the last decade.

Still, the chain reminded people “to wash your hands regularly, please pick up and dispose of your used tissues, cover your mouth if you sneeze or cough, and if you feel flu-like symptoms, stay at home!”

Stepping up efforts

Gyms, meanwhile, are fortifying their cleaning protocols, too. KXAN reached out to several Austin-area chains to learn what they’re doing in response to fears over the new virus.

A spokesperson for Life Time Fitness, which runs three local gyms, said the company is “adding more Purell stands throughout our clubs and increasing hours for Team Members for increased cleaning.”

Planet Fitness and Gold’s Gym both pointed to cleaning procedures already in place. A Planet Fitness spokesperson said employees are continuing “regular and thorough cleaning of all equipment, surfaces, and areas of the club and gym floor using disinfectant cleaning supplies.”

Gold’s Gym’s president and CEO, Adam Zeitsiff, said the chain is “stepping up those efforts” to provide disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer to clients. “Should [the situation] worsen, we will take direction from public health officials and take whatever actions are required in order protect our members, our team members and the general public.”

customer entering gold's gym
A customer walks into Gold’s Gym in north Austin on Tuesday, March 10, 2020. (KXAN Photo/Chris Davis)

Prepare, don’t panic

Community spread, were it to occur in central Texas, would likely change the way Studio Mantra responds to the new coronavirus, Hogan said.

They haven’t seen students avoiding classes en masse, nor is that what they want. “Being with community helps to relieve fears,” Hogan said. “Yoga helps relieve stress, so to get them in here to help with the stress associated with the virus is very important.”

Updike has changed up her routine a little since new started circulating about the coronavirus, washing her hands more and wiping down doorknobs at her home with disinfectant wipes. She briefly considered avoiding the yoga studio, but decided against it.

“I get so much benefit out of it,” she said. “I hated to just give up doing what I love to do.”

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