All 50 states are in some phase of re-opening following strict COVID-19 mandates, but CrossFit gyms have been categorized differently across the board, not only at the state-level but sometimes on the county- and municipal-level as well.
One big thing: Around the country, affiliates have been engaging local governments — sometimes working hand-in-hand and collaborating, other times pressuring and taking legal action — in an effort to illustrate that they have the ability to control their gym environments and create safe working spaces for clients and athletes.
Siggy and Ashley Hermann got their hopes up when the governor of Maryland announced outdoor fitness classes would be part of his state’s phase one re-opening plan.
That executive order was soon revised, and on May 6, the section about outdoor fitness classes was removed.
“Now, the only other mention of gyms was in phase two, which wouldn’t be until September,” said Siggy Hermann, the owner of Coal Road CrossFit in La Plata.
So, Hermann did what many other CrossFit affiliates have been doing; he put the wheels in motion to work with the local government to gain permission to, at minimum, hold outdoor workouts in small groups.
Courtesy of Siggy Hermann (Siggy and Ashley are featured in the picture)
Taking action: Hermann wrote letters and emails. His members wrote letters and contacted town council members. And on May 14, Hermann attended and spoke at the town council meeting, where he convinced the mayor of his cause. Though the mayor voted in his favor, the other council members rejected Hermann’s bid.
No time to back down: Hermann then reached out to his county’s Health Department and eventually to the town manager.
“We mapped out our plan to do outdoor fitness classes. We had already received permission from our landlord to section off a portion of our parking lot. Our town manager was on our side and worked behind the scenes to get the state troopers on board. They’re the ones who enforce the governor’s orders,” he said.
Finally, some good news: “We came to an agreement with the town manager and the state troopers, who agreed what we were going to do was within the social distancing rules, and so the town basically blessed us to open outdoors,” said Hermann, who held his first outdoor workout with nine athletes on Tuesday, May 26.
Though he’s happy with the progress, Hermann doesn’t want to wait until September to move his members inside and will continue working with his government.
“We’re going to continue to push the town and the county. Like most CrossFit gyms, we’re able to control our environment a lot better than Globo gyms. People don’t show up whenever they want and jump on and off equipment whenever they want. We’re able to create a safer environment than that,” he said.
Hermann’s advice to other gym owners: Be persistent with the government and “exhaust all avenues,” he said.
“And keep in touch with other gyms in the area right now. If someone has had success, find out what they did. Now is the time to lean on the CrossFit community more than ever,” he said.
A Tougher Road Ahead for Some Affiliates
After working with multiple government officials and the Health Department to no avail, Dave Yandel, the owner of Harbor Park CrossFit Racine has filed a lawsuit against the City of Racine in Wisconsin.
Racine is opening, except for gyms: While the city has largely opened up, and most businesses are allowed to operate with five or fewer customers in their facility, gyms are still a hard no, explained Yandel, a former police officer.
“We wholeheartedly disagree with the Safer at Home order extension for the City of Racine through May 26. It is arbitrary and restricts the freedom afforded to us by the Constitution of this great country,” he said.
Yandel isn’t the only one who has filed a lawsuit against his city. Last week, we reported the story of a Las Vegas gym with a similar approach.
Stronger together: In North Carolina, small gyms and fitness facilities have banded together in their own effort to have their voices heard. They set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for legal representation and court costs.
Their case is in response to Governor Roy Cooper’s executive order to keep gyms closed until at least phase three of the re-opening plan. The group will be represented by attorney Chuck Kitchen.
As of May 27, the fundraiser had brought in $25,975 of their $30,000 goal.
Good Faith and Goodwill
In Pasadena, CA,three gyms came together and in the spirit of collaboration and goodwill, asked the mayor to personally visit and view their gyms to see how they can control the variables within their spaces, and ultimately to reconsider letting their gyms offer private and small group training.
JB Fitts, the CrossFit Crown City and Drew Girton, the owner of Pendulum Fitness, were featured on ABC7 talking about their cause.
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