Montpelier spin studio using plastic pods to prevent virus spread

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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) A spin studio in Montpelier is using plastic pods surrounding their spin bikes so that students don't have to wear masks while they work out.

"They weren't part of the mandate, but we put them in place because we thought they were amazing and they would make people feel more comfortable," said Sky Barsch, the owner of Alpenglow Fitness.

Barsch says they started to sweat when the coronavirus shut down their group spin classes, but she says the husband of one of her trainers found a creative way to get back on the bikes. "When Zea sent me a picture of these pods, I was literally in tears. I just couldn't believe they were so awesome and I thought, oh my god we can do this," said Barsch.

"We set it up in our house first to see what it would look like, and to see if it would work," said Alpengow's Zea Sands. "It's just for the safety of everyone, that everybody can just get in the zone and just workout."

The gym had to shrink class sizes from 13 bikes to just six plus an instructor because of state distancing guidelines.

When the pandemic shut down her studio, Barsch says she was nervous about trying to make the recovery, but now has confidence her students will feel safe to ride again.

"I think it's very scary being in a business that has a potential for being higher risk. I think coming here and knowing they are not being sweated on by someone else, they can do their own thing. And I do think and I hope that it gives them the ability to dial it in, get their workout in and go on with their day and feel better," said Barsch.

With the addition of a plastic barrier, students can focus less on the world outside the studio and more on feeling the burn.

"This place has become, for me, a place of refuge, a place for my mental health. It was really important and for my physical health," said Heidi Tringe, a client.

She joined in January to lose weight and get fit. When the studio shut down, she was afraid she would lose the progress that she made. And even when the gym reopened, she was nervous about riding again. But she say the pods have made her forget there are even restrictions in place. "We can still see each other. It's a brilliant solution to something I know people are struggling with across the country," said Tringe.

A small barrier for a safe return to something familiar. "They were able to create something and bring us all back much more protected and safe and still have the same fitness experience," said Tringe.