By John Ramos

NOVATO (KPIX) — The pandemic has shut down indoor gyms and fitness clubs but one in Marin County is making the most of the space it has. It might serve as a model for others to follow.

Rolling Hills Club in Novato is luckier than most. It sits on seven acres at the base of the foothills so there’s lots of space for tennis courts and lap pools. The pandemic wiped out all the indoor gym areas which was a problem until owner Martha Domont took a trip to Costco.

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“(I) bought every single tent they had,” Domont said. “I literally bought 50 tents and you’ll see why.”

With those tents, Domont brought the indoor gym outdoors. The tennis court has been covered with canopies to make a shady space for exercise and yoga classes. With more tents and some artificial turf, Domont created “Muscle Lawn,” an area for free weights and elliptical machines.

The workout area is by reservation only for 45 minute periods, followed by a complete wipe-down of all the equipment.

“Every three hours or four hours a team of people come in with these huge, almost bazooka-like misters and just mist everything,” explained Powell Nielsen who works at Rolling Hills.

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A lot of thought went into the pool area as well. There are two lap lanes remaining but the rest of the Olympic-size pool is partitioned into 300-square-foot sections for families to reserve, each for an hour and 45 minutes.

“In some ways it’s nicer than it was before because we don’t have to worry about are we going to find a spot or will it be too crowded? And we have space from other people so it feels like our own mini pool,” said Liz Weldon, a club member.

Aside from lifeguards, there are so-called “monitors” to make sure everyone is following the rules about face-covering and distancing and constant cleaning. As a former event planner, Domont knows how to utilize space effectively and, while she has a lot more room than most gyms, she says the concept is the same.

“I feel for them, not being able to have what I have. But, since I have it, I can at least show you what to do with whatever you have, you know — to make it work.”

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Domant’s son-in-law survived a brutal battle with COVID-19 and his father died from the disease.