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West Michigan gym owners: 'Give me guidelines, I'll follow them'

Local gyms feel overlooked in Stay at Home order
Posted at 4:58 PM, May 12, 2020

KENTWOOD — Local gym owners gathering today with State Rep. Steve Johnson Tuesday to talk re-opening guidelines.

All gyms remain closed during Michigan’s Stay at Home Order, but they’re hoping the governor will change that.

Jason Fuhrman owns Endurance Fitness Center in Kentwood and said smaller gyms like his are very capable of re-opening while keeping clients and employees safe. That’s invited Rep. Johnson to come out and here their concerns.

Fuhrman said his gym isn’t just a business to him.

“I work an average of 74 hours a week and I love it, it’s very hard, but I love it and I do it because I care about my members, I care about the gym, and I want to make this the best gym that it can be, “ he said.

Fuhrman and others have been saying that they can reopen safely citing size as the biggest reason.

Tina Kinsley who owns The Strength Depot in Plymouth and is also the President of the LIFFT Organization points to size as the biggest reason they can operate differently than a big box gym.

She said, “Our facilities on average have less than 250 members and are under 10,000 square ft. We also run these businesses, they belong to us, therefore we are much more invested in our members.”

Kinsley added, that they all have detailed safety plans to follow once members are allowed back.

She said “Our plan is to have 100 square feet allotted per member, with 6-foot distancing enforced at all times. No equipment sharing, sanitation and wipe down of all used equipment before and after, the members use their own personal equipment, there will be no sharing of equipment, no communal chalk bowls, and handwashing before entering premises and upon leaving. “

The goal is to open as soon the state allows, but many gym owners feel like they’ve been forgotten.

Fuhrman said, “It’s as if we have been completely overlooked.”

Fuhrman adds that they’ve gotten little insight as to when they’ll be allowed to bring their members back and hopes that Rep. Johnson can help shed some light on the situation.

Rep. Johnson, who represents Michigan’s 72nd District, said “We are in a public health crisis here, and it really doesn’t make any sense that we declared McDonald’s necessary and essential, but shut down gyms and fitness centers. Actually, we should be going the other way and making sure that those are open, people can get out there, live a healthy lifestyle and they can attack Coronavirus in a much better position.”

Rep. Johnson said that these gym owners just want their voices heard.

He said, “They are willing to take those steps, take those measures that are required, but right now they aren’t in the room, they’re not in the discussion.”

Fuhrman said even if the Governor tells them they can’t open for several more weeks, it’s better than nothing.

He said, “The problem with not knowing when it’s going to end - that it can just be extended every couple of weeks, is that certain small business owners are going to be betting that it’s going to open sooner than it does. They are going to be taking steps based on that, financial steps, that could possibly sabotage a good part of the rest of their life.”

For Fuhrman though, it’s not just about finances, it’s about getting his community back together in the same place.

He said, “I am responsible for every single one of my members and I take that exceptionally seriously. Give me guidelines, give me procedures, I’ll follow them.”

Gym owners are asking people to reach out to their local representatives if they feel as if they’ve been negatively impacted by gyms being closed.