Some local fitness businesses want to open doors


VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Soon, Gov. Ralph Northam is expected to begin talking about phase 2 reopening in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

One industry that has been deeply disappointed by its place in the reopening process is the fitness industry. 

The fitness industry is in limbo, and Anytime Fitness at Landstown Commons Shopping Center has been devoid of club members for two months. 

Loren Sisson owns two Anytime Fitness facilities.

“The fitness industry as a whole feels it’s been discriminated against,” Sisson said.  

Sisson and the fitness industry as a whole are disappointed such an important industry is not considered essential to remain open, she said.

“We have the capabilities within our facility, especially in the small-time fitness clubs, to adhere to CDC guidelines, to make sure there aren’t any more than 10 people in the gym at a time, and we have a rigorous cleaning regiment anyway, and we have revamped the whole thing to make it even better,” she said. 

Phase 1 is set to expire on June 10. The question is, will the health and wellness industry, including Anytime Fitness, be able to open under phase 2?  Fitness centers have not opened under nearby North Carolina’s phase 2, either.

Sissen wants Ralph Northam to know he should be able to open up now with social distancing requirements. H considers himself an essential business.

“This is an essential business. People need their health and wellness to stay sane, so I am not happy with how Governor Northam is handling it at all… I don’t get how the fitness industry is the only one being discriminated against,” he said. 

He wants the governor to know you can’t treat all fitness centers the same.

“The governor set a standard that said no more than 10 people gathering anywhere. Why couldn’t he set a standard to say any fitness facility under 8,000 square feet can open? … We are much different than the big boxes like Planet Fitness, One Time Fitness, and the Y’s. ” 

Sisson doesn’t know how much longer he can last, and it’s already been 61 days since he was allowed to be open.

“We are at a point where we have to survive. I think we are going to get to a point where we are going to have to open our doors regardless of what the governor says… I think we would start with our personal trainers and their clients, and bring them in one at a time with social distancing… This would be a soft opening until we figure out how to do this.” 

Sisson not optimistic fitness centers will open under phase 2 in Virginia because they didn’t open under North Carolina’s phase 2.

“You can go to the ABC store, you can go to Walmart, you can even go to the beach. Governor Northam went to the beach and didn’t wear a mask… but you can’t go to the gym and workout. That is the frustrating part,” Sisson said.

10 On Your Side asked the governor to respond to these concerns. His office sent a one-line email response: “The Governor will continue to base his decisions in data and public health.”

Governor Northam’s office acknowledged on Saturday when social distancing was changing during his visit to the Oceanfront boardwalk, he should have put on a mask, but the image doesn’t help.

“I was kind of surprised to even see him down at the boardwalk. Number one, because you can’t socially distance on a boardwalk. It’s Memorial Day weekend,” Sisson said.

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