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Small Gym Owners Say Their Businesses Are ‘Essential’

Andy Berg

A group of gym owners in Ohio are urging lawmakers to include their small businesses in the list of “essential” businesses as the coronavirus lockdown drags on. 

The group of small gym owners argue that they should be allowed to reopen as long as they follow strict guidelines. The gyms have been shut down since March 16, when governor Mike DeWine issued Ohio’s stay-at-home order.

"Most of us don't have deep pockets so surviving this little bit of time is critical,” 614 Fitness owner Jim Hofstetter told the Columbus ABC affiliate.

The gyms had tried operating virtually, but Hofstetter said the technology was an obstacle.

"The technology was constantly changing, Zoom was overwhelmed,” said Hofstetter. 

"I think a gym is an essential business, if you look around at people's mental health and their physical health and building to fight disease, it has to do with health and fitness so I think it's an essential business,” Hofstetter said.

The group of gym owners has now reached out to state legislature and the Ohio Economic Recovery Task Force, proposing how gyms could operate safely and effectively under the pandemic reality. The group has proposed:

  • Making spacing limitations and making enough room for everyone.
  • Making sure shared equipment, machines, weights and other workout devices should be minimized to the greatest extent possible.
  • Each gym would need to follow strict sanitizing and disinfecting practices.
  • Members and trainers would be required to stay at home if they show any signs or symptoms of COVID-19.

The group is hoping for a response soon.

"As fitness professionals, we thought it might be better if we provided the expertise versus the expertise being provided to us,” Hofstetter said.

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