Chicago indoor mask mandate leaves gyms to find solutions for working out with face mask on

ByJason Knowles and Ann Pistone WLS logo
Friday, August 20, 2021
Gyms work to find solutions as Chicago reinstates indoor mask mandate
Chicago's reinstated indoor mask mandate is leaving local gyms to find solution for those struggling to work out with face masks on.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago's indoor mask mandate has been reinstated as of Friday.

As the city and businesses readjust to requiring face masks again, the I-Team looked into the struggles gym owners are dealing with.

Not only are they hope to keep customers coming in, but they are also left wondering what the city will do to enforce mask-wearing during a workout.

Phenomenal Fitness in Chicago's Loop said they are prepared.

"When you're doing hard stuff, you need to breathe; when you're doing hard cardio, you need to breathe, and the mask inhibits that robust breathing," co -owner Sean Armstead told the I-Team.

He supports the latest mask requirement but said he's also fearful of what that could mean for his business.

WATCH: Dr. Arwady discusses Chicago mask mandate

Dr. Allison Arwady explains why Chicago is reinstating an indoor mask mandate.

"I am concerned, for sure, because it's another thing that frustrates people. We have gone through the mask mandate before and it was begrudgingly done. Some people hated it so much they tried to wear it below their nose, he said. "The pandemic obliterated (our) growth. We started pre-pandemic with a record year."

Even with the masks back, owners at Phenomenal Fitness said they are also strongly considering a vaccination mandate for customers; saying that may help people feel safer and grow business in the long term.

In an email to members, The East Bank Club, in Chicago's River North neighborhood, said it will require all members and employees to be vaccinated by October 1.

"I like that they are requiring vaccinations. I think it is helpful to keep people safe," said East Bank Club Member Loni Edwards.

In member emails, East Bank said it hopes that its vaccination rule will eventually allow the club to drop mask use. However, a vaccination requirement currently does not exempt a business from requiring masks.

Edwards said she sees her workout regimen changing because of the mask requirement.

"It is a lot harder to work out with a mask on,' she said.

RELATED: Understanding the Delta threat: Dr. Jen breaks it down

The city's Business Affairs and Consumer Protection Department told the I-Team that masks can come off to sip a drink but the agency will respond to 311 complaints if gyms are not complying.

Action could start at a verbal warning and eventually result in a violation, the department said.

"We're going to have to be more assertive to reach out to dormant clients and create an opportunity for people who are here, that they want to share the news with people outside of here that they want to come back,' Armstead said.

Trainers said the key to surviving a workout with a mask is getting a cone shape that maintains its form, which will allow you to breathe better and avoid excessive sweat build-up.

The video featured is from a previous report.