NYC Studios and Gyms Are Starting to Offer Mask-Free Workouts to Fully Vaccinated People

Photo: Getty Images/ Thomas Barwick
Last Wednesday, my personal inbox pinged with an e-mail from Barry's that read: "If you're vaxxed, we're maxxed." It went on to explain that the studio's New York City locations would officially return to hosting classes at 100-percent capacity, and that mask-free workouts were an option  with proof of vaccination. As one Barry's goer put it after her first class sans mask in over a year: "It was sweaty and glorious, and everyone was just so happy to be back."

While it may feel like a 180, according to new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control, it is now safe for small groups of vaccinated people to interact indoors without masks or social distancing. And as of May 19, New York has ended its indoor mask mandate for fully vaccinated folks. Which means in-person, mask-free workouts are officially A-okay gain in the Big Apple. (But it's worth noting that not all studios have adopted mask-free workout policies yet, so call ahead to confirm the safety protocols prior to showing up for any class.)

Since the CDC and New York State announced their updated guidelines around indoor gatherings, NYC studios including Solidcore, 305 Fitness, SLT, Fhitting Room, Rumble, and several others have all announced that they're returning to full capacity, mask-free workouts soon, if they haven't already. One of the earliest adopters of the new protocols was Equinox, which reported a 55-percent increase in memberships in the week after lifting its mask restrictions.

Further proof people are starting to feel better about returning to the gym? A new, 1,500-person survey conducted by Walgreens found that 55.1 percent of respondents said they felt comfortable going back now that they're fully vaxxed, compared to just 30.1 percent pre-vaccination.

But it you're not fully vaccinated or feel uncomfortable going maskless indoors, fear not: Many NYC studios will continue to offer socially-distanced classes and require face coverings for the time being. "This approach allows us to begin to transition to our new normal while continuing to keep our clients safe and offer them choices during this transitionary period," says Bryan Myers, Solidcore's CEO and president. So no need to sweat over whether or not you'll be able to find a workout that fits your current comfort level.

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