Gyms consider their options for reopening in North Carolina

Gyms and fitness centers still can’t welcome guests indoors under the Phase 2 order.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Some businesses have reopened under Governor Roy Cooper’s Phase 2 Safer At Home order, but others like gyms are still unable to open their doors to the public. 

This continued closure is forcing gym owners to come up with new and alternative ways to adapt and survive the pandemic. 

A group of gym owners said they’re preparing to legally challenge the governor’s executive order for leaving them out of the reopening plan.

On Tuesday, the attorney for the gym owners, Chuck Kitchen, will file a legal complaint pushing for a restraining order to allow facilities to temporarily reopen. Additionally, more than 25,000 people have signed a change.org petition to allow gyms and fitness centers to reopen during Phase 2 of the state’s three-part reopening plan.

In the meantime, some other gyms and fitness studio owners are finding alternatives while waiting for the Governor’s Phase 3 plan. That stage is expected by the end of June when Governor Cooper and state health officials said it would be safe enough for gyms to open.

But a collective of health and fitness business owners, as well as instructors, are raising money to retain a lawyer. They want to challenge executive order 141 which keeps their doors shut. Despite the shutdown, online gym classes continue for many gyms and some instructors are hosting no-contact outdoor fitness classes. 

“Don’t let this get to you. It’s hard, it’s frustrating, it’s disappointing but you do have options,” said Felicia Hall, a gym instructor in Asheboro.

Hall started Push-Ups in The Park, an outdoor fitness class held at Bicentennial Park in Asheboro. She said her classes follow health department guidelines and do not involve any contact and people can bring their own equipment.

“We do respect social distancing guidelines and if people want to be 6 feet apart they’re more than welcome and if you want to wear a mask you’re more than welcome,” added Hall.

Some gym owners like Nikki Craven of Descending Angels Pole Dancing studio said she was looking forward to gyms reopening under the phase 2 plan but her hopes were dashed. 

 “I do believe that there could be a safe way to have these businesses open but if people aren’t willing to go along with the guidelines were only going to be a strong as our weakest link,” Craven said.

Craven added she’s been planning to open her studio in early June. Now she’ll have to wait till phase 3 which is scheduled on June 26.

“This is a global pandemic. It’s a virus. It does not care that it inconveniences you. It’s simple science to wear your mask and social distance,” said Craven. 

John Meeks who owns Cross Fit Greensboro is also part of the group planning the lawsuit. He tells WFMY News 2 he is able to operate in his gym under Section 8 C of the order which laid out guidelines for non-contact sports.

That section states as follows;

Training of Professional and Collegiate Athletes. Professional athletes and athletes performing on an agreement with an educational institution to receive a scholarship or other benefit may train within indoor fitness facilities that otherwise would be closed under Subsection A above, provided they do not exceed the Mass Gathering limit.

“We are opening up to train our Cross Fit athletes to help them prepare for the sport of Cross Fit. We’re following all the guidelines put out by the North Carolina Health and Human Services,” said Meeks.

Meeks said Monday was the first day back for Cross Fit training. Athletes trained exclusively in different sections with equipment assigned specifically to them. The equipment and area were sanitized and cleaned before and after each session began.

“We’re in groups of 10 or less, we have social distancing in place and all those rules of no interaction between athletes,” added Meeks.

Cross Fit is a professional sport and professional, as well as amateur athletes, participate in competitive sporting events that are even broadcast for a wider audience on major sporting networks. However, it is not listed as an Olympic sport. An inquiry was sent to the governor’s office and the NC DHHS to clarify if Cross Fit is covered under this section. We will update this story once we get a response.

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