Gyms closed for months hold protest workout
Published Wednesday, July 22, 2020 7:27AM EDT Last Updated Wednesday, July 22, 2020 7:35AM EDT
Tessa Baker exercises on the lawn of the state capitol in Lansing, Mich., Tuesday, July 21, 2020. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
LANSING, MICH. -- Dozens of people squatted, thrusted and lunged Tuesday on the lawn of the Michigan Capitol during a workout intended to highlight the plight of gyms that have been closed for months under Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s coronavirus orders.
“We are desperately in need of help at this point. There is nobody, even the biggest ones, who are doing OK at this point,” said Alyssa Tushman, vice chair of the Michigan Fitness Club Association.
Whitmer in March ordered gyms closed, along with casinos and theaters, in an effort to slow down the rate of coronavirus infection by limiting person-to-person contact and promoting social distancing.
Tushman owns Burn Fitness, which has three locations in the Detroit area. She said she’s struggling to stay afloat.
“We’re living minute to minute right now. And I can’t even believe we’re still surviving,” she said. “But I am desperately concerned. We have a lot of debt right now. And I’m very, very scared.”
Tushman and others in the 150-member association hosted the rally to spotlight the benefits of exercise during the pandemic.
Men, women and children wore masks and stayed 6 feet apart — a distance marked by small American flags — as they went through a “boot camp” workout led by fitness professionals.
Without exercise, Michigan residents are facing health conditions that could worsen the effects of COVID-19, said Donald Jordan, who owns F45 Training in suburban Detroit.
“So keeping us closed was great. It flattened the curve. We were very supportive. We think it was a great idea. But right now it’s counterproductive,” Jordan told the crowd.
Gyms in northern Michigan were allowed to open with restrictions on June 10. A judge said gyms in more populous areas could open on June 25, but an appeals court blocked it when Whitmer objected. Some gyms nonetheless have reopened in defiance. Local enforcement varies.
Meanwhile, the state reported 573 new coronavirus cases and nine additional deaths Tuesday.