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C.O. gyms get busier as safer option to work out amid the dense smoke

(Update: Adding video, comments)

'Hazardous' air quality sends many fitness-seekers inside

SISTERS, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Jolynn lambert is used to exercising outside.

She's done some of the biggest hikes around Central Oregon.

"Probably the biggest one I've done this year is Black Crater,” Lambert said Tuesday.

But she's not doing any big hikes anytime soon.

 "It's really, really smoky outside," she said.

Sisters Mayor Chuck Ryan said, "I ran the other day, and the smoke index was like 165 -- and when I came back, it was over 600."

Hazardous air conditions in Central Oregon are making things like exercise even more of a challenge.

But that hasn't stopped everyone.

"It's all up to the individual,” said Mike Marr, who was out walking his dog by the Deschutes River on Tuesday morning. “If someone's got a respiratory problem, I think they should stay in."

And many people are choosing to stay in at the gym.

"We're probably about 10 percent (usage) higher than expected," Sisters Athletic Club owner Tate Metcalf said.

That's good news for a business that was hit hard by COVID-19 restrictions.

Athletic Club of Bend General Manager Kip Heilman said, "It feels so good that I think our members feel safe here."

Air circulation has not only been key for stopping the coronavirus, but also now because of the smoke everywhere.

"We've got over 30 air handling units in this buildin,g with new filters in each of them,” Heilman said.

But due to COVID-19, not everything can be the same.

Ryan said, "Inside, you have to do it with a mask, and I'm not running with a mask."

Still, everyone makes do with what they have.

Lambert said, "It does replicate hiking quite a bit, going uphill."

Metcalf added that he’s encouraging people at the gym to take it easy while the air quality is so poor.

Bend / Business / Central Oregon / Coronavirus / Fire / Health / News / Sisters / Sports
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Jack Hirsh

Jack Hirsh is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Jack here.

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