La Jolla gyms and galleries begin reopening after months-long closure

La Jolla Sports Club has sanitized its equipment and ensured at least six feet between stations for its reopening.
La Jolla Sports Club on Fay Avenue has sanitized its equipment and ensured at least six feet between stations for its reopening, according to owner Brett Murphy.

Some La Jolla gyms, galleries and museums are open again as San Diego moves further into the reopening process following coronavirus-related closures that began in March.

The state announced guidelines for many types of businesses and other venues, including child care, casinos, movie theaters, hotels, bars, zoos, community swimming pools and aquariums, to reopen beginning June 12.

The guidelines include a long list of conditions, led by requirements for social distancing and face coverings and regular, heavy sanitation.

After some two months of figuring out at-home hair care and watching how-to videos on YouTube, San Diego County residents are able to return to salons and barbershops under government health and safety guidelines resulting from the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

La Jolla Sports Club at 7825 Fay Ave. plans to open June 15, according to owner Brett Murphy. He said he felt The Village would be too busy June 12 with a Black Lives Matter march for the fitness facility to open safely and that he wanted to confirm he was following the rules closely.

“We do have at-risk members,” Murphy said. “We want to be very safe and careful.”

Murphy said La Jolla Sports Club is “going to a reservation model,” with members asked to sign up for 90-minute sessions. The gym will close between sessions for a half-hour for thorough disinfection and then reopen for the next 90-minute period.

Restrooms in the gym will be open, as well as half the lockers. Murphy said the benches in the locker rooms have been removed and he is still “figuring out the showers.”

There will be no access to the steam rooms in accord with official guidelines to make gyms less spa-like.

All staff members will wear masks donated by LJSC spin instructor Emilio De Soto.

“I’m just very careful,” Murphy said. “We’re in the health and fitness business. If health isn’t my main priority, then I shouldn’t be in the business.”

Following regulations also is important to Evan Tyrell, who owns F45 at 7743 Fay Ave., where “there are a lot of changes,” he said.

F45 usually runs clients through 45-minute high-intensity workouts in groups scheduled back to back. But the number of 45-minute sessions will be reduced as the gym is sanitized after every class, Tyrell said.

“There will be no shared equipment,” and participants will be asked to stay in 9-by-9-foot squares throughout the workouts. Class sizes are “drastically reduced,” he said, with check-ins done via personal phones. Hand sanitizer containers are “everywhere,” he added.

One positive from the reduced class sizes, Tyrell said, is there will be more personal attention to each client, as well as a focus on nutrition. “We want to help people work those COVID-19 pounds off,” he said.

Tyrell said F45 also will continue its online training program started in March following the closure. “People not comfortable coming to the studio yet can still have that access,” he said.

Customers of 24 Hour Fitness got bad news over the weekend when the chain announced it was permanently closing more than 130 U.S. locations, including in La Jolla at 7680 Girard Ave. The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy June 15.

Many places of worship threw open their doors to welcome back their congregations and guests after last month’s release of new state safety guidelines for reopening.

With art galleries allowed to reopen, a few in La Jolla are planning their first exhibitions in months.

At the Tasende Gallery at 820 Prospect St., owners Jose and Betina Tasende are planning to reopen Friday, June 26, with their Petite Format exhibition.

“It’ll be fairly low-key,” Betina Tasende said. “We’ve done what we have to do per the guidelines in order to safely open.”

“As it is, our business model has never been one where people come in and touch things,” she said.

However, she added, the gallery has been thoroughly cleaned and will limit the number of people inside during the opening.

"Botero Girl" is one of the pieces Tasende Gallery is preparing to show at its Petite Format exhibition opening June 26.
“Botero Girl,” one of the pieces Tasende is preparing to show at its Petite Focus opening June 26.

Jose Tasende, who has owned the gallery for 41 years, has been waiting eagerly to reopen. “These are very important artists,” he said.

Ron Stevenson, owner of R.B. Stevenson Gallery at 7661 Girard Ave., has been open for a few weeks in accord with allowances for retail stores but now is planning an exhibition for early July. He hopes that opening, featuring local artist Monique van Genderen, will bring much-needed business.

“Galleries can’t survive without openings,” he said. “The plan is to have sealed, single-serve bottles of water or wine, and we won’t have the crowds we usually do for an opening, but I’m very excited to start.”

Whisknladle, a popular La Jolla restaurant that closed March 16 because of government mandates that shut down eateries’ dine-in service to help stem the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, is staying closed for good, even as other local restaurants prepare to reopen dine-in service.

Stevenson said it’s easy at openings for guests to stay several feet apart, and he’s planned to have surfaces wiped clean often.

“If people just use the hand cleaner often and follow the directions on the sign about masks and social distancing, it should be fine,” he said. “We want people to come and see the art we offer.”

At the La Jolla Historical Society, Executive Director Heath Fox said its Office & Research Center at 7846 Eads Ave. will reopen to the public Monday, June 29, for those who want to access the archive for research.

The exhibition galleries will open Wednesday, July 8, Fox said.

“Access to both facilities will comply with public health directives related to occupancy limits, social distancing, face mask requirements and other safety measures,” Fox said.

The Map and Atlas Museum of La Jolla at 7825 Fay Ave. will be open by appointment only as of Wednesday, June 17, said museum director Richard Cloward. Appointments will be available Wednesdays and Thursdays only.

“We’ll try that for 30 days,” Cloward said. “If that works out, we’ll probably reopen.”

The museum has a few appointments, and Cloward said he is “encouraged.”

“I’m hoping we can get back to a more normal schedule by the end of June or July,” he said.

Birch Aquarium at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography is not reopening yet, marketing director Beth Chee said, though “we hope to be able to announce our opening date soon.”

The Village’s movie theater, The Lot at 7611 Fay Ave., reopened its restaurant for dine-in service June 9 but remained closed for screenings as of June 15. It did not respond to a request for comment about when the theater would reopen.

Meanwhile, a new round of reopenings will allow nail salons, tattoo shops, massage therapists and personal care businesses such as waxing services to open starting Friday, June 19.

San Diego County Supervisor Greg Cox said sanitizing and facial coverings at those businesses will be especially important due to the close proximity of workers and customers.

“We can’t let reopenings lead to a surge in [coronavirus] cases that will ruin everything we have done in the last several months,” Cox said.

City News Service contributed to this report.