ROCK HILL, S.C. — Kirk Eich recently took over as CEO the Upper Palmetto YMCA nine days ago.
He's still meeting staff and learning his way around, but his plate is piled high now that Gov. Henry McMaster has allowed gyms and fitness centers to reopen Monday.
“We were quick to close. We’re gonna be slow to open,” Eich told Channel 9 Thursday. “We’re just ready to get back to doing what we do and, of course, in a safe manner.”
On Thursday, staff members at the Rock Hill YMCA on Charlotte Avenue were scrubbing down the hallways and repainting. They’re preparing to bring members back after two months amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Social distancing will be practiced in gyms where equipment is set up 10 feet apart, and aerobic workouts will be limited.
In weight rooms, treadmills were wrapped in caution tape, so only every other machine can be used, and there were disinfectant chemicals at every station.
Staff will also clean public areas constantly.
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Pools and lockers will remain closed.
“We just don’t feel comfortable opening up those spaces yet,” Eich said.
The YMCA will open branches Monday in Rock Hill, the Baxter-Close branch in Fort Mill and the CSD Community Y near Lake Wylie.
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They will bring the others back in phases.
Eich wants to see The Y thrive again but said some members should stay away for now.
"If you have preexisting conditions, if you're at risk, I would encourage you probably not to come to The Y, right now, and that's a tough thing to say, but it's the right thing to say," he said.
The Upper Palmetto YMCA serves York, Chester and Lancaster counties.
During the pandemic, about 30% of members either suspended or canceled their memberships.
Eich said they can’t worry about that and are working to make sure the places are clean, staffed and ready to welcome people back.
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