WOODLAND HILLS, Calif. — On average, it's 8-15 degrees cooler in the hot yoga studio at WARRIOR&CO. A Yoga Studio in Woodland Hills. Co-owner Bonnie Sobel leads her 11 a.m. class with students now six feet apart and no longer using equipment that would typically be shared.
The cooler temperatures and encouragement to take breaks as needed are adjustments the studio is making under L.A. County's latest mask mandate. Staff and patrons are now required to wear masks while practicing or working out.
“It’s a little bit of a challenge, but in a good way," said West Hills resident John Scalco. "It’s nice to know that everybody’s taking the precaution and wearing the mask, so you feel comfortable."
The order went into effect on July 1, and requires fitness facility staff and patrons to wear masks at all times — even while working out. The regulation was implemented in 19 California counties to help slow the spread of the virus.
It’s an added level of protection, but also an added hoop to jump through for fitness business owners like WARRIOR&CO.'s Sobel and sister-in-law Karen.
The pair had to shut down their yoga studio for three months, and just as they were catching their breath after reopening in June, the county announced the new mandate.
“The challenging thing is we don’t know how long this will last," said Karen, pointing out business is down 70%. "We’re just taking [it] day by day and hopefully we’re part of the solution."
Working to be an example of that solution has meant strictly following protocols even when it comes at the expense of their bottom line. The Sobels have added temperature and symptom screenings, distancing enforcement, a PPE station, and going above and beyond with professional-grade air purifiers.
The studio is also taking the added precaution of not using shared equipment like blocks or bands that are typical in yoga classes.
“If that’s what’s required at this time to help the numbers come down and to help keep the community safe, then that’s what we needed to implement and follow,” Karen added.
While it's a different experience wearing masks, and adjustments to this new normal will continue, the studio's tight-knit yogi community is grateful to have the ability to practice.
“I hope this time around everybody can keep the masks on, stay safe, and we can let this virus die out and move forward,” said Scalco.