It’s finally the mask for optional workouts at the Mayo Clinic gym – Reuters

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ROCHESTER, Minn. — The need for masking is greatest in healthcare, but masking is hitting some activities harder than others. Like working at the company fitness center.

So, for users at Mayo Clinic’s Dan Abraham Healthy Living Center, the lifting two weeks ago of a mask requirement in non-patient areas of the Rochester campus has been a long time coming.

“A few members have reached out to me to say they’ve been waiting for this and are excited to be back,” said Center Director Heather Smith. “I’ve had members come to my classes specifically, like a cycling class, and say it’s so amazing… Just to take a mask off when they go up the stairs, train hard, and feel like they can give their best effort. It’s a joy to see their smiles.”

“This concept of joy is important to our organization,” said Beth Riley, director of human resources at the center. “And (the policy change) is something that has created joy for our members here.”

The clinic in Rochester, Arizona and southwestern Wisconsin announced the new policy on September 9, one making masking optional for vaccinated staff in non-patient care areas of patient care buildings , according to Mayo spokesperson Ginger Plumbo. A mask mandate has been in effect for two years.

“To protect our patients, visitors and staff, masking continues to be mandatory in any physical location where patients or visitors may be present, including common areas such as hallways, waiting rooms and cafeterias. patients,” she said in an email.

As a result, those entering the Dan Abraham Center must still wear masks in the elevator lobby serving its upper floors, but may work out in the upstairs fitness area without a mask. That said, the center still welcomes a large percentage of users who prefer to exercise with masks.

“I would say right now it’s about 25%,” Riley said, “just depending on where they are. You have some of the active older people who still prefer to mask up…as well as the people who work in direct patient care who still prefer to mask up. But it’s so nice to offer the option.

With the exception of users having to show proof of vaccination to become a member, this is the latest concession to COVID-19 mitigation to fall on the fitness center floor.

Tape lines that once kept attendees at bay have been lifted since the start of this year, Smith said, and exercise classes have long since returned to their pre-COVID capacity. Contacted outside the establishment, several users said they liked the new policy but had become accustomed to covering up while sweating.

“I like it,” said Emily Stuart, a student in the clinic’s medical laboratory science program. “It’s a lot easier to train without a mask… But I’m definitely aware of other people around me and try to go during times when it’s not crowded.”

“It’s nice to be part of the Mayo community but not have to wear masks,” said Tony Watts, a registered nurse. “It certainly wasn’t ideal when you got your heart rate up, you started sucking on the mask and sweating all over it.”

“But I’m just following their guidelines and whatever they decide, I understand and respect.”

“I’m used to it man,” said Graham Jaensch-Frie, a researcher who plans to remain masked at the center.

“Obviously the cardio was the hardest. I think a lot of people were waiting for that because the second that warrant came out I walked in there and nobody had a mask on after that.”

“I’m okay with that,” he said. “I know people are going to do what they want to do. All you can really do is protect yourself and that’s what it comes down to. I’m going to keep wearing the mask.”

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