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WA gym owner: Inslee’s mandates make it hard for small gyms to survive

Gov. Jay Inslee on Thursday, Aug. 8. (TVW)

Gym owners all around the state are struggling to operate during the coronavirus pandemic, as well as trying to navigate the governor’s new mandates. But it’s especially difficult when you’re a small gym owner. Ginny Pietila is the owner of Mercer Island Athletic Club and joined the Jason Rantz Show to discuss her experience trying to adapt to Inslee’s rules.

“The new guidelines that Governor Inslee pushed forth effective three days ago, on Monday, are the third iteration of Phase 2 guidelines for our industry, and the newest iteration is asking all fitness facilities regardless of their size to provide 17 feet of space between each client, and it does not delineate what that client is doing, or what type of facility or size of facilities that you are operating,” she said.

“With the new guidelines, we can essentially put two people in a small group fitness class and then still maintain our three personal training sessions in the gym area. That’s just not sustainable by any stretch.”

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Pietila says she’s maintaining all the standards required by the previous mandates involving masks, sanitization, and distancing, but the sudden changes are making it difficult.

“The bigger picture really is we, the small fitness studio owners, just simply don’t feel that it’s just and equitable to label all gyms under the same heading. We’re appointment based only, there is absolutely no open gym. Nobody comes in that is not supervised, that does not have an appointment,” she said.

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“So we really feel like we’re doing everything extremely safely with following all of the guidelines that we were previously given.”

What are small gym owners doing in response?

“There is a petition out there, the small studio owners are definitely banding together just because we really do run in a completely different business model than the bigger gyms. … We’re asking Governor Inslee to reconsider these new mandates and do a delineation between an appointment-based only, small footprints in the studio versus a bigger, open gym studio. Right now, we’re about 16,000 signatures, and that’s just in the last 90 days,” Pietila said.

“We’re just really trying to get the ear of those that need to hear this and that can help us look at this with a little bit more common sense for the small industry.”

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3 – 6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here.

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