WASHINGTON, July 7, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, over 60 of America's top fitness industry leaders signed an open letter calling on all United States governors to allow gyms to remain open safely as states take action to curb the COVID-19 crisis.
The letter cites specific science-backed evidence that gyms are not the culprit when it comes to spikes in COVID-19 cases, in part due to their strong safety and sanitation protocols as they reopen. It also advocates for the mental and physical health benefits of exercising, particularly the maintenance of a healthy immune system.
The full text of the letter, officially issued by the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA), may be found here and below.
After COVID-19 caused gyms to close for several months, business owners took action to adapt and make sure that their businesses could reopen safely and responsibly by putting forward new policies and protocols that follow social distancing guidelines and enhance cleaning and sanitation practices. While most states have allowed gyms to reopen in some capacity, some states like Michigan and New York have yet to reopen gyms. Additionally, Arizona recently shut down gyms for 30 days because of a spike of COVID-19 cases – although evidence did not show that the gyms were responsible for the spikes. In response to this, many of the nation's top fitness industry leaders are speaking out and calling on governors to look at scientific evidence that proves gyms are safe to exercise in.
July 7, 2020
To the Governors of the United States of America:
Health and wellness have never been more essential to our country as they are at this very moment.
We know each of you is under immense pressure to stop the spread of COVID-19 in your state. We are writing to ask that you consider scientific evidence, Americans' mental and physical health, and not shut down gyms and fitness centers that can operate safely.
As leaders in the fitness and wellness industry, we value above all else the health and wellbeing of the millions of members (and staff) who visit the tens of thousands of gyms, clubs and studios operating across the 50 states. We are equally committed to doing our part to help stop the spread of COVID-19 – and our members, who are health conscious, share this mindset.
Here is what we know: There is clear evidence that the fitness industry is not the problem when it comes to the spread of the virus.
Evidence shows the fitness industry is not spreading COVID-19. This past spring, we closed our facilities in good faith and based on your mandates to help flatten the COVID-19 curve. Given how little was known about the new virus, it was the right thing to do for the safety and well-being of our members and employees. We then worked within each of your states to develop stringent safety and sanitation protocols for reopening fitness locations – including limited capacities, distancing mandates, sanitation and cleaning standards, face mask requirements for staff members and more.
It was also important for us to share these rigorous reopening standards with our members, who are health conscious and understand that our facilities are reopening in a safe and responsible manner.
Today, we have evidence since reopening that gyms, clubs and studios are not causing the current virus spikes many states are seeing.
In a survey of 135 clubs with 3,443,123 total check-ins, fitness industry consultant, Blair McHaney of MXM/Medallia reports that there were 0.004% of positive cases reported as of June 30.
Contact tracing in some states supports this finding. For example, while Arkansas is experiencing a spike in COVID-19 cases, contact tracing from the state government shows 0.3% of newly infected individuals visited a gym. Additionally, new research from the University of Oslo found no COVID-19 transmissions associated with fitness centers in a randomized trial of reopened fitness facilities. (As a result, Norway reopened its gyms nationwide.)
Meanwhile... there's an absence of evidence.
It's worth noting that our industry has seen NO tracing data provided by public health officials that indicates that gyms, clubs or studios in the U.S. are contributing to the spread of the virus.
And let's not forget: Exercise strengthens immune systems
Moderate exercise has been shown time and again to help immune systems. Data shows that obesity increases the likelihood of hospitalization with a COVID-19 infection six-fold.
However, according to worldwide fitness tracker data, physical activity has decreased by 5% since the pandemic began – no doubt, in part to the shutdown of gyms, clubs and studios. The millions of Americans who represent our members make a conscious decision to take care of their individual physical health by working out. They also know that exercise has emotional and mental benefits as well. These Americans are worthy of having access to the gyms, clubs and studios to take care of their health.
Combined, these data points offer clear indications that the safety and sanitation policies implemented at gyms, clubs and studios that have been allowed to reopen are effective – and that these businesses may pose little to no additional risk for COVID-19 transmission compared to other public places.
Plus, we provide an essential service to help Americans stay healthy and strong. The vast majority of clubs, gyms and studios across the U.S. are small, locally-owned businesses.
They provide essential services to their members, are responsible members of their community and are safe to operate according to all available scientific evidence.
We call on you, governors, and your respective departments of health, to consider the evidence on where the virus is spreading when making decisions and allow gyms, clubs and studios to safely operate in your state. As an industry, we will in turn continue to operate in good faith to ensure the facilities that millions of Americans trust to help them stay healthy and strong are clean, safe and operating in a responsible manner.
To your health and wellness,
Following is a list of fitness industry leaders representing thousands of health and fitness clubs from all 50 states:
Chuck Runyon, co-founder and CEO, David Mortensen, co-founder and president, Self Esteem Brands
Stacy Anderson, President, Anytime Fitness
Angela Jaskolski, President, The Bar Method
Ben Camper, President, Basecamp Fitness
Amy Halford, Chief Marketing Officer, Self Esteem Brands
Bill McBride, Co-Founder, President & CEO, Active Wellness
Matthew Stevens, President & CEO, The Bay Club Company
Vicki Brick, CEO, Brick Bodies
Michele Melkerson-Granryd, General Manager, Castle Hill Fitness
Greta Wagner, Executive Director, EVP, Chelsea Piers Connecticut
Cory Brightwell, CEO, Chuze Fitness
Bill Beck, President, Club Fit
Paula Neubert, President/General Manager, Club Greenwood
Shaun Grove, President, Club Pilates
Larry Welch, Owner, Cross Gates Family Fitness
Jim Rowley, CEO, Crunch
Brent Darden, Brent Darden Consulting
Luke Carlson, CEO, Discover Strength
Rich Drengberg, CEO, EoS Fitness
Josh Harwood, Chief Administrative Officer, Fitness Connection
Gale T. Landers, Founder and CEO, Fitness Formula Clubs
Anastasia Yusina, Founder, FITSPACE Boutiques
Jamie Hamler, COO, Franco's Athletic Club
Rodney Steven, President/Owner, Genesis Health Clubs
Adam Zeitsiff, President & CEO, Gold's Gym
Angel Banos, Jr, President & CEO, GOLD'S GYM SOCAL
Bryan O'Rourke, Gold's Gym Magnolia
Jason Reinhardt, Owner, Go M.A.D. Fitness
Josh York, Founder & CEO, GYMGUYZ
Cher Harris, General Manager, The Houstonian Club
Mark Harrington Jr., President, Healthworks Fitness and Republic Fitness
Caitlin Tvrdik, Global Vice President of Marketing, Lift Brands, Inc.
Frank Lawrence, CEO, Little Rock Athletic Club
Karen M. Raisch-Siegel, Executive Director, LifeWorks of Southwest General
Steven Schwartz, CEO and Jon Brady, President, Midtown Athletic Clubs
Jim Worthington, Owner, Newtown Athletic Club (The NAC)
Val Paese, CEO, New York Health & Racquet Club
Bill Lia, Executive Director, New York State Fitness Association
Shannon Hudson, CEO & Co-Founder, Heather Hudson, COO & Co-Founder, 9Round
David Long, CEO and Co-Founder, Orangetheory Fitness
James W. Thompson, President, Oakland Hills Tennis Club, Inc.
Glenn Norris, CFO, Planet Fitness Growth Partners
Curt Larson, President, Plymouth Fitness
Michael Dabish, President, Powerhouse Gyms
Dick Knight, President, PRO Sports Club
Sarah Luna, President, Pure Barre Franchising, LLC
Matt Remick, President, Rochester Athletic Club
Ramon Castillon, President, Row House Franchise LLC
Ren Rice, President, Riviera Fitness, French Riviera Fitness, The Parks Health & Fitness
Ty Menzies, CEO, Alison McElroy, President, International & CLO, Snap Fitness
Anne Mahlum, CEO, Solidcore
Jim Zupancic, CEO, Evan Zupancic, COO/GM, Stafford Hills Club
Larry Conner, President/GM, Stone Creek Club & Spa
Jeff Stokes, President, STRIDE Franchise, LLC
Carrie Kepple, STYLES Studio Fitness
Derek Gallup, Executive Vice President, UFC Gym
Rick Casselbury, Owner, Universal Athletic Club
John Galiani, Founder & Co-Executive Chairman, US Fitness Holdings, LLC
Aaron Moore, VIDAFitness
JoAnna Masloski, COO, Wellbridge
Anthony Geisler, XPONENTIAL FITNESS, LLC
Shannon Hudson, CEO & Co-Founder, Heather Hudson, COO & Co-Founder, 9Round
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SOURCE Self Esteem Brands