Arlington, VA

This past Saturday was a heck of a time to open a new gym.

Despite a globe-spanning pandemic keeping Arlingtonians at home, despite delays in the construction, VIDA Fitness has opened at 4040 Wilson Blvd in Ballston.

General Manager Richie Poe didn’t shy away from saying COVID-19 and other factors made opening the location — the first non-D.C. location for the high-end local fitness chain — a challenge. But he said the gym’s budding community has been supportive.

“The opening was originally challenging,” Poe said. “This is the third VIDA location I’ve opened, but this is much different. Opening the gym was challenging. We have a lot of construction delays and COVID-19. But once we were able to finally get the doors open, the members have been happy and positive.”

Part of that opening process has been regular health inspections to ensure that the gym’s equipment is properly spaced and mechanisms are in place for frequent cleaning.

“We had to have a health inspection specifically for what we’re doing in response to COVID-19,” Poe said. “We were prepared for that and had everything in place. We’re following the mask policy for indoor use, social distancing orders by putting equipment out of service. Every day we switch the out of service equipment to make sure people are 10 feet apart and we have hand sanitizer stations around the club.”

Poe said the gym follows protocols above and beyond the state requirements, like using a machine that creates a sort of disinfectant fog that cleans the dumbbells between uses. So far, Poe said that’s paid off with support from gym members.

“A member just emailed me and said she felt safe and comfortable,” Poe said. “It was really nice to hear. She commented on all the protocols in place and that she felt comfortable. Members I’ve talked to feel safe and comfortable here.”

Poe noted that VIDA Fitness offers a delay in membership to people who don’t feel coming to gyms yet but don’t want to cancel their services.

“It does affect our revenue, but because this club is brand new, we were able to modify the budget to accommodate those things,” Poe said. “We’re not making money, but hoping to continue to build the trust in the community. We want to make sure people are safe.”

Another challenge Poe said he’s facing is signage, noting with a laugh that it seemed to be one of those specific regulations Arlington County seemed very intent on enforcing. There’s very little signage outside the building directing patrons around the side to where the gym entrance is, but Poe said he’s looking into putting up sandwich boards or some other form of wayfinding reminders.

Further east, a new VIDA Rosslyn at the Highlands development is still in the works. Poe said the plan was to launch the gym later this year, but with everything that’s going on, it would not be a surprise if the Rosslyn opening date gets pushed back to 2021.

Photo via VIDA Fitness/Facebook

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