Since we discussed fitness business owners in Ohio efforts to reopen amid COVID-19, the Morning Chalk Up has been inundated with similar plights of CrossFit affiliate owners worldwide.
The Morning Chalk Up has made contact with box owners who’ve reached out to relevant authorities in the following countries, where there are still mandated closures in place.
- United States: To our knowledge appeals have been made by CrossFit gyms in Maine, Minnesota, Ohio, California, Wisconsin and Illinois.
- Australia: The governing body representing the country’s entire fitness industry put together this proposal.
- New Zealand: While the country has no states, just one Federal government, National Champion Luke Fiso said: “We tried [to make an appeal] in NZ, no luck.”
While the social distancing restrictions vary from state to state and country to country, the appeals being made by box owners globally are almost identical.
Here are the key points: Affiliates want to reopen as soon as possible for the health, safety and sanity of members and are willing to put the following restrictions in place.
- Having an allocated space for each member and restricting class sizes to make sure they satisfy these requirements.
- Scheduling to ensure classes are spaced out minimizing how many other members and coaches people contact.
- Strict policies with staff and members that if you’re sick or showing any symptoms of COVID-19 to stay home. Many appeals have even gone as far to mandate temperature checks upon entry and having coaches wearing face masks if required.
- Cleaning the gym multiple times a day and adhering to strict protocols and guidelines. This includes educating members on cleaning procedures.
- Equipment would also be cleaned down and disinfected after each member uses it. Many gyms agreed to minimize the sharing of equipment too.
Where are gyms at?
- Ryan McFadyen owns Ohio Strength and gathered the support of 20 other CrossFit affiliates in Ohio: “We’re just asking to be allowed to reopen in the earlier stages of the process with best practices and to be able to have a dialogue with the leaders about how we can accomplish that.”
- “I’ve also had conversations with other CrossFit gym owners around the state, and we have one in the Cleveland area that will be testifying before our state’s economic recovery advisory board … This is what we’ve hoped for. To try to have a voice in the process,” he said.
- Tracy and Ferdinand Thieriot, who own CrossFit Firefly gathered 32 CrossFit affiliate owners from southern Marin County to the Oregon border. “The response from the community was phenomenal and we had a great discussion,” they said.
They’ve made the following industry recommendations on behalf of the District 2 CrossFit Alliance and have also written to HQ asking for a letter to help their position.
- Fitness Australia CEO Barrie Elvish also made an interesting point: “Unlike other establishments such as bars, restaurants, and retail outlets, gyms also have a key advantage when it comes to instant contact tracking, with all members having to swipe in and out or book in for a class. Should it be necessary, no other industry has the ability to provide to health authorities this real-time data.”
- Nate Berry from CrossFit Presque Isle said in his appeal to the State of Maine: “Our members are dedicated. They thrive on routine, which has been hard during these times. … I, and they, are asking that you allow them to work back towards their routine in a safe manner.”
- Joel Baxter owns CrossFit Repentance in Madison, Wisconsin, home of the 2019 CrossFit Games, where a group of affiliates in the area have also crafted a petition. “We’ve had to be so creative to keep our business going. We have a lot invested in that: not just money but also friendships,” Joel Baxter told CBS.
So where does that leave us? In the US, President Donald Trump’s revealed his guidelines for “opening up American again” which includes gyms as part of phase one. Some states, like Georgia are already up and running, Oklahoma has also floated a May 1 reopening.
- The plan’s not without critics though:“Filled with people sweating and breathing hard, sharing equipment and spaces, gyms are in many ways the last kind of business to prioritize during a deadly pandemic,” this CNN article read.
- Dr. Saju Mathew from Atlanta also expressed concern about the guidelines gyms are putting forward: “How are they going to make sure that people work out where they’re six feet apart from each other at all times? Are they going to only let people stagger in? I just have a lot of health and safety concerns.” Dr Mathew told CNN.
But right now, they’re the exception and not the rule and we’re yet to hear back from any affiliates that have been successful in their appeal.
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