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Arizona Gyms, Governor Square Off Over Shutdown

Jason Scott

Arizona governor Doug Ducey issued an executive order Monday in hopes of slowing the spread of the coronavirus in his state, calling for bars, water parks and gyms to temporarily close. Instead, many gyms promptly filed lawsuits.

Ducey called for those businesses to close until at least July 27 to help the state manage its hospital capacity as cases have spiked — including single-day record case numbers in the past week. According to the Arizona Republic, gyms in the state promptly filed lawsuits for the right to remain open.

Mountainside Fitness was first to announce its intent to sue, and was promptly joined by the Life Time Fitness and EōS chains. 

"It's not about Mountainside," Mountainside Fitness CEO and founder Tom Hatten said. "It's about business and our choices and our civil liberties and where our leadership is taking us at this point in time."

Mountainside’s lawsuit called Ducey’s order “arbitrary and irrational” and sought to keep its 18 locations in Maricopa County open to its 90,000 members.

Meanwhile, Life Time Fitness indicated that its Arizona gyms would open Wednesday as usual, including steam rooms, saunas, pools and children’s areas. 

"In support of the nearly 1,500 Life Time team members in Arizona clubs, we disagree with further disrupting their livelihoods after the challenging impact posed by the shutdowns in place since mid-March," chief operating officer Jeff Zwiefel said in a message to members.

EōS said it would close its gyms for 24 hours "in respect for this mandated closure and for our governor," according to a social media post by CEO Rich Drengberg, adding that the franchise would seek clarification and to further the position that gyms are safe and should remain open.

Patrick Ptak, a spokesperson for the governor, told the Republic that Ducey’s order would be enforced.

"Gyms and other indoor fitness clubs or centers, regardless of size, shall pause operations until at least July 27,” Ptak said. “This is a public health issue, particularly among our younger demographic, and we are looking for cooperation and compliance from our business community in the name of public health. We know this is a sacrifice."

Ptak said that cities can cite businesses who fail to comply with the order, and suspend their business licenses. Gyms that fail to comply with Ducey’s order could be subject to a Class 1 misdemeanor and fines.

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