Planet Fitness to require face masks at all times starting Saturday

NOW: Planet Fitness to require face masks at all times starting Saturday

MISHAWAKA, Ind. -  Do you have to wear a mask or not? It’s a question on the top of many residents' minds as the governor has issued a mask mandate requiring it but not enforcing it.

But Planet Fitness wants to make the decision on whether to wear one simple for gymgoers.

Starting this Saturday, Aug. 1st, face coverings will be required inside at all times. Even though the statewide order does not require them during exercise.

“Hands down yes, there's there's no lack of confusion," Robin Vida, the Director of Health Education for the St. Joseph County Health Department.

Health officials like Robin Vida aren’t blind to the confusion many residents feel when it comes to wearing face masks and applauds businesses that make it clear to its visitors.

“I really think anytime somebody cannot be at least six feet away from somebody else outside of their family unit, a face mask should be worn," Vida said. “I applaud that decision, especially because when somebody is being physically active and you know, breathing harder than usual, the respiratory droplets can actually go further than that six feet. So I think that was a very, very good and very safe move on their end.”

State and county mask orders require residents to wear a mask when in public where 6 feet of physical distance is not possible, but these mandates won’t be enforced.

“I think there's a little bit of room for interpretation," she said.

But Planet Fitness is cutting down on the confusion by requiring masks at all times when inside its facilities.

Gym goers are largely in favor of the new requirement

“Honestly we have to do what we have to do if we want to stay fit and not only protect ourselves but for others. It’s not that big of a deal to me," Ashley Ojo“I think it should’ve been implemented a while ago honestly. I think everybody will be fine.”

“I think it’s great. I think everyone’s complying trying to do their part so that places can stay open," Cynthia Frescella said.

But will wearing a mask while working out turn into another health risk? Vida says no.

“The majority of the masks that somebody is going to be wearing, when being physically active are safe for them to be physically active while wearing it," she said.

Cloth and disposable masks are preferred to medical-grade n95 masks but she says that if you feel out of breath to just try resting or minimizing the activity.

“The only time that I don’t like to wear a mask is when I’m running, Stairmaster, high cardio," Stephanie Torres said. “I think I’ll be fine wearing a mask. It’s something we all have to get used to just to be safe.”

“It won’t be any problem for me, I’m just happy they’re open," Frescella said. 

One man who didn’t want to go on camera told ABC57 that Planet Fitness has been very adamant about masks and when he heard of this new mask requirement, he canceled his membership right away.

So although some are happy about the move, others want a little freedom.

So what about other local gyms? Are they doing the same thing?

ABC57 spoke to the General Manager at Charter Fitness.

He said right now masks are required unless someone is working out vigorously but that gives a little leeway for folks not wanting to wear a mask.

But after taking a survey from gym-goers, he said a lot of people are on board with a complete mask requirement and that is something they are definitely looking into.

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