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Gyms Set To Resume Indoor Classes As Illinois Moves To Phase 4 Of Reopening

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Illinois has moved into Phase 4 of reopening the economy, and that means many gyms are opening their doors for the first time in months.

The Morning Insiders take you inside a suburban fitness facility that never closed. CBS 2's Lauren Victory explains why you could find blood, sweat, and tears at Precision Training in Schaumburg throughout the pandemic.

When you run a microgym, squeezing the most out of 1,600 square feet is crucial. Every inch matters, and in a pandemic, you need to leave room for social distancing.

"Each phase of the reopening process, we've torn everything apart, and we started from scratch," Precision Training owner Wade Merrill said.

Precision Training reconfigured for virtual programming in March, April and May; then, on June 1, carved out personal training space allowed by Phase 3 of the state's reopening plan.

"I invested in the partitions to make sure that we could actually quantify how many clients we could train safely at one time," Merrill said.

In addition to one-on-one training, the state also allowed outdoor classes at gyms and fitness centers during Phase 3. So Merrill sunk cash into a trailer for equipment.

"Phase 3 was about a $6,000 investment. ... $6,000 to a microgym is probably like, for most other business, a couple hundred thousand."

Now everything is changing again, as Phase 4 allows gyms and fitness centers to reopen indoor classes with capacity limits.

"It's one of those things where it's like a, you know, a blessing and a curse," Merrill said.

It was back to the drawing board less than a month after Phase 3 started, since Phase 4 okays group fitness inside.

"We did not see that coming one bit, whatsoever," Merrill said. "We expected that we'd have our gym set up this way for at least the rest of the summer."

He's exhausted physically and financially, but Merrill's not huffing and puffing. He looks forward to clients doing that.

"Nobody had this in their 2020 business plan. Nobody expected that, hey, two months into the year, you're all of a sudden going to have no business whatsoever," he said.

Just keep it moving, his team says. Par for the course.

Gyms outside Chicago are now allowed to operate at 50% of normal capacity, but those in the city are capped at 25% capacity for now.

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