Gym owners demand clarity and reopening timeline

Published: May. 12, 2020 at 11:06 PM CDT
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Gym owners across the state are becoming increasingly frustrated with a lack of clarity from the governor regarding how and when they might be able to reopen.

The state agency that regulates gyms hasn’t been able to provide answers and is calling on the governor to make a decision soon.

Red Hills Crossfit in the state’s capitol has been shuttered since mid-March.

“We would consider ourselves essential, maybe more so than like a dry cleaner,” said owner Travis Perkins.

Perkins was surprised when the governor disregarded the recommendation from his own task force and left gyms out of phase one.

“But we took it as black and white. It said gyms, fitness centers and we didn't try to necessarily try to classify ourselves as anything else,” said Perkins.

But Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried told us the governor’s break from the task force recommendation has created confusion for other gyms.

Her agency has received more than 100 consumer complaints of gyms improperly opening.

“Complaints from those that are complying with you know the words that are on the executive order and have shut down, but yet all their competition is opening back up. So there's a frustration out there,” said Fried.

In a letter seeking clarity from the governor, Fried also mentioned reports of gym owners who were told by the governor’s own administration that they could in fact open under certain circumstances.

“DBPR is giving them one answer, our inspectors are going out there giving them a separate answer,” said Fried.

The frustration boiled over in Clearwater Monday, with dozens of gym owners and employees protesting.

“We have no communication from anybody with regards to when we're able to open or why we're not able to open,” said Travis LaBazzo, owner of Amped Fitness.

LaBazzo organized the protest.

He told us he and other owners want answers now.

“If for nothing else, we at least deserve a date,” said LaBrazzo.

Both gym owners we spoke with said they were able to qualify for PPP loans, which has helped them stay afloat and keep paying employees.

They noted that money will only last for so long.

Like the commissioner, we also reached out to the governor asking for clarity, but have not received a response.

We’ll continue pushing for an answer.