DVIDS - News - Brave New World: Amid COVID-19 mitigation, major Bliss gym reopens - Republik City News

Combining Department of the Army instruction and local public health considerations, the Directorate of Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation, and the garrison command worked together to reopen the Sgt. Joshua W. Soto Physical Fitness Center, June 10, 2020, at Fort Bliss, Texas.

Soto, which is currently open to active-duty troops, retirees and their family members, is the fourth fitness facility to reopen here (as of June 24) since the COV-19-precautionary shuttering of many FMWR facilities on the installation earlier this year. The other open fitness facilities with modifications are Ironworks East, Aquatics Training Center, and Replica Pool on West Fort Bliss.

Opened in 2010, the $22 million, 96,000-square-foot facility is named in honor of Soto, a 1st Battalion, 77th Armored Regiment “Steel Tigers” Soldier who was killed while on patrol in southern Iraq in 2009.

Reservations please …

Although Soto is currently open from 6 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m Saturday and Sunday, not all guests can visit at all times, and some workouts may require a reservation.

There’s also a mission-first focus as four 90-minute periods per weekday are for Soldiers only. For a complete breakdown of periods and requirements, check out the graphic accompanying this story.

Feeling fit?

Soto staff members and those borrowed from other FMWR facilities across Bliss man a health checkpoint at the entrance where they monitor guests’ temperatures with a no-contact thermometer. After an acceptable temperature is recorded, guests are logged for contact tracing and they are on their way.

Red or green?

The FMWR facility, which contains $2 million of fitness equipment, has been reconfigured to encourage social distancing with a dedicated entrance and exit plan, as well as color-classifying all guests by their intended workout.

Those coming to Soto to sweat on an elliptical, or to do any cardio work, receive a red stamp and are relegated to the second floor of Soto whenever possible. Those looking to lift weights in Soto’s 10,000-square-foot, first-floor weight room get a green stamp.

Once guests have started their workout, they are not permitted to change to the other color area.

Mask up

Unless a guest has a previous condition that prevents the use of a face covering, they must be worn throughout the facility, unless actively using cardio equipment.

According to the CDC, the virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to spread “from person-to-person, mainly through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. Spread is more likely when people are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).”


Be sure to come hydrated as the water fountains at Soto are off until further notice. Locker rooms and showers are also closed to lessen coronavirus risk as customer-access water is off-limits. There is potable water at the entrance as part of a mandatory hand cleansing station.

Sean Lewis, the Fort Bliss sports director, whose program is headquartered at Soto, said despite the daily operations challenges a pandemic can cause, the FMWR sports and fitness program is ready to serve those who serve and who’ve served, while putting health and safety first.

“We are excited about reopening Soto gym for the Soldiers, retirees, and family members of Fort Bliss,” he said, “and have taken every precautionary measure possible to ensure it is a safe environment for them to perform and meet their health and fitness needs.”

For a complete breakdown of what’s available and to stay updated on what’s on the way for fitness at Fort Bliss, visit bliss.armymwr.com.

Date Taken:06.18.2020
Date Posted:06.30.2020 17:30
Story ID:373157
Location:FORT BLISS, TX, US 
Hometown:EL PASO, TX, US

Web Views:8
Podcast Hits:0

, Republik City News

Share this