Some in Central Jersey are getting the chance to lift weights for the first time in months — and don't have to worry about breaking any statewide COVID measures either.
That's because the Ovox Gym in Morganville has changed not only how it is operating, but where. The owners set up a tent outside, with no walls but most of the equipment any exercise aficionado would expect at a gym.
The Monmouth County gym moved the usual weights and cardio machines outdoors in order to comply with COVID safety measures in the state, substituting the rubber mats inside with artificial grass outside. Everything is properly spaced out to allow for social distancing.
"We know everyone still wants to workout, so the way we can comply with the governor was to do it outside, like the restaurants do," said owner Stu Rosenstein. "This is a full gym. There's fans, there's music, there's electric. We lock it up at night and have full security in place."
Face masks are required, as is constant sanitization. Everyone who goes to work out is given a spray bottle of disinfectant to wipe down the equipment after they use it. Temperatures are taken inside before anyone can go outside or touch the equipment.
The regulars were more than ready to get back to their old routines, and for those who went to work out on Friday, they said it feels like a weight off their shoulders.
"You take a super stressful time, and then you take away one of the biggest stress relievers, it's terrible," said member Jeff Taylor. "It's just such a big part of my life that giving it up, I understand why, but giving it up was difficult for a while. I'm just happy to be back."
There was another gym in New Jersey that tried opening earlier in the summer, but that was in direct opposition to Gov. Phil Murphy's executive orders that have kept all indoor gyms closed during the pandemic.
The co-owners of the Camden County Atilis Gym, who allegedly failed to stop operating their business in the face of repeated court orders, were arrested July 27. There had been an ongoing court fight regarding the governor'a indefinite shutdown, and a loss by the owners of the gym in a state court the week prior directly led to the charges.