Ready to return to the gym? How about a haircut? Survey yields mixed opinions

July 1, 2020

While many Sioux Falls residents are comfortable getting a haircut at a salon, comparatively  few are comfortable with working out at a fitness center, according to a new survey from SiouxFalls.Business and the Augustana Research Institute.

More than 700 readers shared insights into how they’re approaching reopening and recovery during COVID-19 in an open survey conducted from June 1-8. It is not a scientific survey, but it does include representation from all age groups. Respondents were about 70 percent female and 30 percent male.

Our respondents also reflect a few populations. They are most likely English speakers. They are more likely to own a home. And they likely are engaged with news, or they would not have found the survey. So keep those things in mind to avoid thinking this survey should stand as representative for the entire community.

Almost two-thirds of respondents said they are uncomfortable working out at a fitness center, with 33 percent feeling comfortable.

A much larger percentage of women aren’t comfortable with working out at a fitness center compared to men. Seventy-two percent of female respondents aren’t comfortable, compared with 55 percent of men.

Respondents who said they are uncomfortable with returning to fitness centers cited the high amount of shared surfaces as a prominent reason.

“It is hard to believe weights can be properly cleaned between person to person,” one respondent said.

“I’m iffy on this one,” said another. “I just feel like fitness centers — particularly small ones — have large exhalations of breath and people touching more things. I’ll likely go back in the next couple of weeks; I’m just still a little leery.”

Others said they already practiced healthful measures at the gym before the pandemic and, therefore, feel comfortable with returning.

“I don’t get that close to other people, and I have always been diligent myself in wiping down equipment even before I start using it,” a respondent said.

GreatLIFE vice president of fitness Randall Hill said he hopes patrons are comfortable with returning to the company’s numerous centers after seeing the adjustments they’ve made to accommodate people’s comfort levels and find new ways to promote fitness.

“We recognized right away our members had different needs and comfort levels related to their fitness experience during the pandemic,” Hill said.

“We were grateful we could remain open on a limited basis and offer a safe workout to those who really benefited from keeping to something resembling their normal routine. At the same time, we shifted to a huge virtual fitness offering, offer equipment rental and help members train from home for a 5K. As we’ve reopened in stages, we think members increasingly are comfortable coming back – especially once they see all the adjustments we’ve made to keep them safe.”

The numbers are flipped between comfort for fitness centers versus hair salons, as more than two-thirds of respondents feel comfortable with hair salons.

Respondents credited this shift in opinions to fewer shared surfaces and stricter health guidelines.

“They are using extreme measures to protect patrons, including but not limited to temperature checking, mandatory hand washing, phone wipe downs and only allowing three patrons in the salon at a time,” a respondent said.

“We don’t need to take our kids with us, we and our stylists can wear face coverings, and we are comfortable with the cleanliness safeguards that our preferred salons have in place.”

One local shop, Atoley Salon in downtown Sioux Falls, has implemented many new guidelines since reopening for business.

Clients have to fill out a health questionnaire while booking an appointment, wash their hands before receiving service and are encouraged to wear a mask. Social media and marketing manager Bri Cowan said Atoley has seen a largely positive reaction to its policies, experiencing busy days with many customers.

“People haven’t been too hesitant about coming back,” Cowan said.

From reopening to wearing masks, Sioux Falls weighs in on COVID-19 recovery

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Ready to return to the gym? How about a haircut? Survey yields mixed opinions

From visiting a hair salon to getting back to the gym, here’s what our survey respondents had to say about revisiting their usual stops.

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