When Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey announced on Tuesday, May 12 he was lifting the coronavirus-related restrictions that closed gyms throughout the state for nearly two months, Leo Gutierrez, whose family owns Power Zone, and William Martinez, owner of M.C. Fitness Center, said they immediately prepared to open at 5 a.m. the next day.
“Being closed that long was a huge hit for me and my family because we are a family owned business,” Gutierrez said. “We tried applying for those small business disaster loans. Didn’t hear anything from that. As far as I know my application is still in there.”
“It was very difficult for us to pay our bills while we were closed,” Martinez said.
J.C. Ortiz, a regular member at Power Zone for over a year, said he appreciates the precautions Gutierrez is taking to make sure all the equipment stays sanitized adding he has, however, changed his workout schedule and now visits the gym during its “slow periods” which are mid- to late-morning to early afternoon.
“All in all, I feel safe coming here,” he said.
DHS football players Adalberto Valencia and Diego Martinez have been working out at home trying to stay fit and were relieved when they learned Power Zone reopened.
“I had just started football training and then we had to stop,” Valencia said. “When I heard the gym was opening back up I was happy. I like coming here.”
“I like what they’re doing here,” Martinez said. “I have no problem wiping down the equipment when I’m done. It’s all about keeping everyone safe and healthy.”
“For as long as I can remember I’ve always wiped down the equipment after I am done using it,” Valencia echoed. “I don’t like leaving sweat for other people to lay on.”
Both athletes say they are watching the COVID-19 numbers and should there be an increase in the number of cases affected, they may scale back their workout routine but with football season just around the corner, they want to get as much work in as possible.
No doubt the gym owners will struggle to get back on track, but in the meantime, Gutierrez acknowledged his landlady, Alice “Bunny” Zamora, whom he said was empathetic, going as far as cutting him a break on his rent. “I’m beyond grateful for what she did to help us out,” he said.
Throughout the governor’s decree that forced many businesses to close, Gutierrez had been watching the news and was receiving regular updates from Ward 6 Councilman Jose Grijalva as to when he could possibly reopen.
“Hearing that we could finally reopen was a huge relief,” he said. ”I was at the point where either I open at my own risk knowing the consequences while still following guidelines from CDC, or go bankrupt.”
Both Power Zone and M.C. Fitness Center, are located diagonally from each other on the same block on G Avenue. Combined they have more than 600 active clients who use their facilities seven days a week. The owners said that during the closure they maintained contact and tried to support and encourage each other the best they could.
Both owners say they are disinfecting their equipment, bathrooms and common use areas several times a day. They even have messages on their Facebook pages advising their members what is being requested of them when they visit their facility.
“We have eight different sanitizing stations inside our facility,” Gutierrez said. “We’re asking our members to wipe down their machines and disinfect them when they’re done. The biggest request we are asking of our members is that if you are not feeling well, to please stay home out of respect for the gym and the community.”
Gutierrez admits he was not sure what to expect when he reopened but his members returned and one individual even purchased a year membership. Both facilities say they are crediting members membership during the time they were forced to close.
“We don’t want to go through something like this again,” Gutierrez said. “What I have learned from this whole experience is that nothing is for sure. The hit we took of being closed for close to two months was hard, but also humbling. I want to thank everyone for their support.”
Power Zone is open Monday through Friday, 5 a.m.to 9 p.m., Saturdays, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., and they are closed on Sunday.
M.C. Fitness is open 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday; Saturday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.