DORI MONSON

WA gym owner: COVID data doesn’t support shutting down fitness centers

Dec 2, 2020, 1:34 PM | Updated: Dec 3, 2020, 6:18 am
gyms, covid, fitness...
(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

There’s a consortium of gym owners questioning why Gov. Jay Inslee and Washington state are shutting them down, believing that such a move is based on inconsistent COVID data. Blair McHaney is the founder of the Washington Fitness Alliance and CEO of MXMetrics, and joined the Dori Monson Show to discuss.

“Well, if you remember going into this shutdown back in March, it was all about touch surfaces, right? And even as a club owner myself — I own two clubs in Central Washington, going on 40 years in business — I announced we’re shutting our own clubs down two days before the governor required it, but that’s because all the scare was around touch services,” McHaney said.

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“As data came out, and as new evidence came out about how this transmits, gyms sort of got left back there and included in the narrative of what you shut down … We started to go out and collect data on check-ins and data on actual outbreaks in states, and what we found was that outbreaks aren’t happening in fitness centers,” he added. “… That’s the hypothesis that people had going into this, that gyms were high risk, but the data doesn’t support that.”

Additionally, McHaney says keeping gyms closed is hurting everyone’s overall health during what is a sedentary time as a result of COVID lockdowns.

“People need to be exercising,” he said. “We’re taking away exercise for hundreds of thousands of adults just in our state alone, and it’s disproportionately affecting the underprivileged. And it’s not just that it’s disproportionately affecting them right now because they don’t have either the space or the means to create home gyms, but also just mental illness tends to disproportionately affect them already in the first place.”

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“The CDC’s new guidelines on exercise just came out, and they asked people to increase the amount of cardiovascular exercise, and all adults should have weight training for two sessions a week,” McHaney said. “We know that exercise immediately increases mood, that that’s the short term benefit of it. But over time, it’s one of the most effective medicines for mental health at a time when we need it most.”

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WA gym owner: COVID data doesn’t support shutting down fitness centers