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Local gym using UVC lights to disinfect facility

COLUMBIA Mo. (KMIZ)

As states across the nation begin their first phases of reopening business, many americans are eager to get back to the gym.

Dr. Randall Williams, the director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services issued an order on April 27 allowing gyms to reopen on Monday.

Gyms across Missouri are now looking into ways to maintain a sanitary space for people to exercise while still following social distancing orders and other state guidelines.

Michael Egnew, a co-owner and founder of API Fitness, a gym in Columbia, says as new information was released, he started looking into new ways to make sure the facility is safe and germ-free.

"We're structuring our exercise workouts in a manner where everyone's going to have plenty of distance between each other, the class numbers will be low and we've implemented a lot of disinfectant squirt bottles with rags all around the gym," Egnew said. "I think most importantly is what we're doing after hours, we're going to be introducing UVC light."

Egnew says after everyone leaves and the gym has been wiped down with disinfectant spray, the API team will set up and turn on UVC disinfectant lights for 15 minutes to eliminate any trace of the virus in the gym.

According to research by Columbia University, UVC ultraviolet light is a direct approach to prevent airborne transmission through inactivation of airborne pathogens; however, its widespread use in public settings is limited because conventional UVC light sources can be dangerous, which is why API will perform the light treatment after everyone leaves the gym.

"You know, I think that's the number one important thing you want clients to come in the gym and know that hey, they're doing a good job at disinfecting they're doing a good job at maintaining the guidelines," Egnew said.

Due to COVID-19, the state closed down gyms on March 24, which left API to find new ways to connect to their members.

API Project Fitness, which had hundreds of members before the lockdown, turned to daily Zoom workouts to keep their members active.

Jerrell Jackson, a co-owner of API Fitness, has been leading the zoom workouts and says it opened up new opportunity for the gym.

"We've even had people from Brazil watch our workouts we've had people all around the country watch our workouts, and we would have never touched those people if it wasn't if we wasn't forced to you know go online and kind of put our brand in front of more people so it's definitely been a blessing for sure," Jackson said.

Jackson says the gym has been able to stay open financially thanks to anonymous donations, members who have chosen to renew their memberships and a deferred rent payment from their landlord.

"We even had a lot of clients, continue their membership," Jackson said. "They had the option to drop their membership if they wanted to, but they decided to stay in support of, you know, making sure that favorite gym stays afloat."

Egnew said API has applied for many small business loans but has yet to accept any.

We also reached to Wilson's Fitness which has 3 gyms across Boone County and an athletic center. In a statement to ABC 17 News the marketing director said they are looking to a "phased approach" to reopening.

"We're in constant communication with government and health officials to make sure we're able to open in some capacity when we're cleared to," said Ashten Robinson, a marketing director for Wilson's Fitness Centers. "We've been working hard on a phased approach to reopening with additional safety measures, social distancing efforts, and added cleaning rotations for the safety of our members and team members."

The Boone County stay-home order is set to expire on May 3 but could be extended.

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Zach Boetto

Zach Boetto anchors the weekend morning and weekday 9 a.m. & noon newscasts for ABC 17. You can find up-to-the-minute information on Zach’s social media, @ABC17Zach on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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