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FARMINGTON — Gyms in San Juan County spent more than two months hanging by a thread in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, anxiously waiting for the OK to reopen their doors.

They got the official go-ahead on Monday, as New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham eased more state restrictions, which was welcoming news because the business closures have taken their toll.

"If we would've waited another month, I don't know if we would've reopened, honestly. All of our clients that came back are happy that we're open. They're ready to come back," said Crystal Williams, owner of The Colosseum Personal Trainers in Farmington.

Ryan Paine, who owns Premier Fitness of Aztec, said his facility is a “great source of strength” for his clients, making its reopening that much more important.

“It is exciting to open up the front of my gym. People seem to be excited to get into the gym and start working out again," Paine said.

Williams said she and one of her trainers worked with one or two clients at a time in various off-site locations while maintaining social distancing, but lost some of those clients in the process.

"I don't know if they'll come back because everybody's in turmoil," Williams said.

Over time, it became challenging to keep clients motivated to train outside the gym.

"You get bored. What do you do when you're bored? You eat, you don't go exercise. When you get stressed, you need exercise to release the stress," Williams said.

Paine said the stay-at-home period has been depressing for people.

“You’re stuck at home, you’re going to be depressed. It helps to be able to take stress out somewhere," Paine said.

Now that gyms have opened back up, Paine said he hopes people will get back on track with their health, adding fitness aids in that.

Gyms already have cleanliness and sanitation standards in place for clients, and they look to stay on top of those standards.

“All my members are good about wiping down equipment," Paine said.

Williams says there are now currently about 100 clients at The Colosseum.

Paine said he had about 120 clients before the pandemic occurred, but has lost about half of those clients since then. Now he looks to get that number back up to around 120 and keep it growing.

In the end, gym owners hope to avoid another closure.

"This is one thing we can't control, and that's what makes it frustrating," Williams said. "We'll stay open as long as we can."

Matt Hollinshead covers sports for the Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577 and on Twitter at @MattH_717.

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