Maj. Jeremy Tillman felt relief when he heard the Graves Fitness Center was re-opening. A self-described creature of habit, Tillman typically worked out at Graves four times a week, before the facility shut down in mid-March because of the pandemic. Besides enjoying the routine, Tillman also liked that Graves was open 24 hours a day and offered a variety of fitness equipment.

To stay in shape while Graves stayed closed, Tillman trained by himself at or near his Springfield home. But, it wasn’t the same.

The day after the fitness center re-opened, July 8, Tillman checked Graves’ status via Google. Skeptical of what he reads on the web sometimes, he then followed up with a phone call to Graves. The person on the other line confirmed what he read online. There were restrictions still in place, but Graves was open for business again.

Tillman looked forward to returning to as much of a regular schedule as possible, to maintain Army fitness requirements. “I want to be a good example,” said Tillman, who arrived the morning of July 10 for his first workout at Graves since the shutdown.

As word spread that Graves was open, more people started showing up, said fitness instructor John Anderson. Anderson said 17 people worked out the first day, which increased to 20 to 25 as the week went on.

As of now, only active-duty Soldiers and first responders are allowed to work out at Graves. And, only 40 patrons can be inside Graves at one time.

Anderson helps watch over the variety of workout areas, to ensure patrons follow instructions and understand what’s available.

It’s an adjustment for everyone. Water fountains are closed, so those working out can’t refill their bottles and should bring enough water with them. Or patrons will inadvertently exceed the maximum number allowed in a certain workout section. However, when Anderson brings the oversight to their attention, everyone complies.

“These are Soldiers,” Anderson said. “They know how to adapt.”

Daquan Bethea, a behavioral health specialist at Belvoir, said he had no apprehension about returning to the gym.

“I feel good,” Bethea said. “It’s been awhile since I’ve been lifting weights.”