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The YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas is preparing to open its doors June 1.

Although gyms were given the go-ahead to open the week of May 11, the Dallas Y is choosing to wait to ensure the safety of its members.

“For the safety of our members, program participants and staff, we must be very thoughtful and intentional about how we reopen branches,” said Curt Hazelbaker, the president and CEO of the Dallas Y. “With counsel of medical experts and best practices from other YMCAs around the country, we are working toward a phased opening of our branches beginning June 1. If we feel ready to do that sooner, we will.”

The Dallas Y has 20 locations, but plans on just opening seven in the first phase to see what works and what doesn’t. Hazelbaker said this approach allows them to prepare their facilities and train staff while helping members get comfortable with new routines. They will be communicating with members, so they know what to expect when they walk into their YMCA.

It is not clear when the rest of the locations will reopen, but Hazelbaker wants to ensure they are well prepared for when this happens.

“This is a unique situation, so to protect the safety of our staff and members, we want to get through Phase 1 before we make that decision,” he said. “We want to make sure we have considered the proper precautions, safety measures and staff training to effectively reopen our branches. We have decided to take a staggered approach to make sure we are appropriately ready to reopen.”

Like other facilities, the Dallas Y is taking measures to ensure members are keeping their distance in the facility. All open areas inside the facility have been evaluated and redesigned where necessary to help ensure social distancing between members. Signage will be placed throughout the facility to drive awareness of this requirement.

“We are also spacing out equipment, alternating our treadmill and cardio usage to every other machine, and limiting capacity in the facility and in classes so everyone has the recommended six feet of space,” said Hazlebaker. “We have dedicated staff to sanitize equipment after use, as well as an ample amount of EPA-registered disinfectant wipes and sanitizer available for wiping down equipment. We will also perform a deep clean of our branches each night.”

For members not ready to return, the Dallas Y is still catering to them. Virtual classes, as will staff outreach to their senior population and other at-risk members, will continue. The staff will continue to check on them, visit with them and even help run errands.

“While our Y facilities were closed, we continued supporting families in need like we’ve always done for over 135 years,” said Hazelbaker. “As we reopen, that won’t change. We are working toward a thoughtful and intentional plan for the phased opening of our branches, keeping the health and safety of our members and staff top of mind.”

Taylor Brown

Taylor Brown is the assistant editor of Community Rec Magazine. She can be reached at taylor@peakemedia.com.

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