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Aurora youth gymnastics facility opens, Mayor Coffman supports decision

Posted at 6:53 AM, May 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-18 08:53:35-04

AURORA , Colo. — Before Stephanie Sodden reopened Colorado Gymnastics Institute in Aurora, she made sure to modify procedures for the 650 young female gymnasts who call the gym, off E. 6th Avenue and Chambers Road, home.

"We came in and cleaned every inch of this gym, trying to disinfect it," Sodden said.

In addition, each gymnast's temperature is taken before going into the facility. Only small groups of girls train at one time inside the very large 24,000-square-foot space.

"We are making sure the athletes' hands and feet are sanitized before going on any equipment," Sodden said. "After each rotation the girls have to sanitize before and after."

Bathroom use is limited and the facility water fountains are closed.

Sodden is afraid that even with all the extra safety precautions and social distancing measures, the Tri-County Health Department could still come after her for opening too early.

"Every county, every municipality in the state is dealing with the vagueness of what we’re all encountering and how to move forward and how to sustain our businesses," Sodden said.

She said she believes her business falls under the "personal training" category. TCHD has specific rules for that specification.

Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman has Sodden's back no matter what. He called her personally before she opened.

"He was just calling to say that I was good to go," Sodden said. "I was shocked. Hearing from our government in that way really gave me faith in our system."

Coffman told Denver7 he always considers the guidance coming from TCHD.

"We have chosen to look at the guidance and take a look at these businesses and see whether they fit and not have a big government bureaucratic response," Coffman said. "We’re here to defend her because we made a decision."

It was a decision the young gymnasts were happy about.

"It’s really good to see all my teammates," said athlete Bella Persons. "It's hard not to hug them and stuff but definitely good to see them again."

Persons, as well as her fellow teammates, were forced to workout at home during the stay-at-home order. Those workouts could never compare to the training done at the gym.

The decision also allowed Sodden's coaches to get back to work.

"This is their life. This is their world," Sodden said. "This is what they love and I want to be there for them."

Mayor Coffman said his city is looking at all businesses individually to determine who should open faster than others. He says the safety of the community is still a priority.