Flower Mound Fitness Facility Owner Voices Frustration Over Reopening Guidelines

Jesse James Fit plans to open its Flower Mound location Monday for retail business only, despite state orders

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As some retailers slowly come back to business in a limited capacity, the governor still has restrictions in places for others.

Salons, bars and gyms are among the businesses not allowed to fully reopen until at least mid-May. Gov. Greg Abbott has said that’s only if the state's infection rate improves.

However, a Flower Mound business says it can barely wait any longer.

Jesse James Fit is a private training facility that operates by appointment only. There are multiple locations in DFW and clients only work one on one with trainers through guided workouts.

Despite state orders, owner Jesse Leyva said he is planning to open the main Flower mound location Monday -- but only in a retail capacity.

Leyva said no one will be touching any of the equipment and his trainers will only be selling products or going over meal plans and goals with clients. Tables are spaced at least 6 feet apart for trainers to meet with the clients.

“With us opening on Monday, it’s not to defy anybody. We’re not going to be exercising, all of my equipment will be taped off. We’re not training. So I want to make that very clear,” he said.

Equipment is taped off and tables are spaced at least 6 feet apart for trainers to meet with the clients. (Credit: Jesse Leyva)

They also plan to give tours to clients on new safety procedures they're implementing at the studio. Leyva said his employees have installed additional sanitizing stations, moved machines apart and even took out other machines that don't adhere to safe distancing. An industrial-grade sanitizing system, similar to those used to disinfect schools, was also brought in to sanitize the facility.

“It would be senseless for any facility to open up and just go right back to training and expect your clients to know,” he said.

Masks, social distancing and capacity limits will be enforced. Clients will even be required to wear gloves when gyms are allowed to open legally for workouts.

“We’re scheduling our appointments like we usually would, but now just 6 feet apart. Our goal is to meet with our customers, find out where they’ve been, how much weight they put on, how they feel – it’s been seven weeks. And let them know that we’re not going to start right back up, we’re going to phase you into training,” he said. “I just want to get things rocking, get that rapport. It’s not the same as virtual, it’s not the same as a phone call. Our clients are used to the culture, they’re used to seeing these trainers and talking to them. So we wanted to give some of that back.”

Leyva said he’s opening to prove a point – he says the rules aren’t fairly defined properly for unique facilities like his, which he doesn’t consider a big box gym. Even before the crisis, he said clients are not allowed to freely use the equipment because all of the workouts are guided by the trainers.

“Our sanitation and cleaning protocols are much higher standards and easier to enforce because we’re with you, we spray down and keep things clean as opposed to another gym,” he said. As a business owner, there’s nothing more frustrating than having your hands tied and being called nonessential.”

But he says he’s also opening for the sake of his 21 employees, which includes single moms and struggling families.

"These are the things that make you stay up late at night. It's my employees that I love to death,” he said. “These people that I employ, they’re not 1099, they’re not disposable. They’re not trainers at a place where they pay rent. They are employed by me so I’ve got to make things happen.”

His employees receive benefits and Leyva said the bills for the three leases he’s operating are mounting. He said hopes the state and local government will give consideration and exception to certain businesses that still want to operate in a retail aspect while following CDC guidelines.

“In my field, we help people stay healthy and live longer and ward off medication and depression with physical fitness and mental fitness. I just want people to be aware of this and be mindful,” he said.

Leyva said the city of Flower Mound has informed him that he risks getting a citation. He said he's been in communication with the city to make it clear that he's only operating in a retail aspect.

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