There is no evidence that fitness centers spread COVID-19, gym franchise says

Business News

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ This year has been a tough one for Crossfit Providence owner Tanner Baldauf.

After being forced to close in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, Baldauf was relieved when he learned he could once again offer in-person classes back in June after Gov. Gina Raimondo shifted Rhode Island into Phase 2 of her plan to reopen the state’s economy.

But on Thursday, Raimondo warned Rhode Islanders of a two-week “pause” starting Nov. 30, which includes the closure of fitness centers among other businesses.

Raimondo’s decision is not sitting well with business owners like Baldauf.

“It doesn’t really make sense,” he said. “We’ve been taking all the precautions.”

Baldauf said since reopening, he’s cut class sizes in half, keeps track of who is attends his classes and sanitizes high-touch areas and equipment constantly.

“The fact that we can track and manage anyone and everyone that comes in and out of the gym, it’s super helpful, where as you go to a retail store they don’t know where you’ve been,” Baldauf said.

Baldauf said a couple of his gym members have tested positive for COVID-19, but that his contact-tracing system has helped prevent outbreaks.

His main concern now is that Raimondo’s “pause” will end up lasting longer than two weeks.

“[They’ll say] ‘Alright guys hang on two more weeks,’ and then they’ll be like ‘two more weeks,’ and then it just turns into this never-ending two more weeks,” he said.

Baldauf is not alone. In a statement to 12 News, Planet Fitness said the company is worried about its 16 Rhode Island locations.

“State leaders said they made their announcement based on data on how cases spread, yet there is zero evidence that fitness centers are a significant source of COVID-19 spread,” the company said. “Access to fitness centers is also more critical now than ever as physical activity plays an important role in maintaining a healthy immune system and reducing COVID-19 risk factors such as obesity, heart disease, lung disease and diabetes. People need affordable access to fitness, and with colder weather in RI and early sunsets, they can’t easily and safely work out outside.”

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