PORTLAND, Ore. — The coronavirus pandemic keeps taking lives and the vaccine continues to be our hope for the future. But in the meantime, health safety restrictions have Oregon’s indoor gyms shut down completely.
Tony Gracia is on a mission to get gyms reopened, including the one he founded with his wife in 2013.
A video Gracia provided KGW for Industrial Strength Gym shows the way it used to be pre-COVID. Since then they bought a building in St. Johns. They gutted and transformed the inside. But because of Oregon's shutdown, it sits empty.
Like many gym owners, Gracia doesn’t think the science supports closing gyms entirely.
“They seem like they’re contradicting themselves because they say we’re following the science – well how are you following the science? You have the data that you put out that shows gyms have not had a single spread and yet you close us anyway,” said Gracia.
The gym owner points out that Oregon gyms, big and small, operated with restrictions from June until November, and did so safely. But when COVID health metrics skyrocketed in the state, Governor Kate Brown shut them down anyway.
Governor Brown’s office responded to KGW on this issue, with press secretary Liz Merah writing in part:
“All of the risk reduction measures in place—including the temporary closures of indoor gyms in extreme risk counties—are intended to curb human contact, reduce the number of people we interact with, and reduce the frequency of those encounters.”
Gracia is getting support with a change.org petition. In it, he argues the governor’s plan allows others, like chiropractors and physical therapists, to do the same type of one-on-one work, that he legally can't right now.
“They can come use our gym space to have somebody come do flexibility training, core training, strength training, etc., but we’re not allowed to have that same person come into that same building and run them through that same training; it doesn’t make any sense at all, it’s a total double standard,” said Gracia, who hopes the governor will reconsider and allow supervised exercise in his gym and others.
“Meaning all one-on-one personal training, that way the staff member can make sure all of the safety protocols are followed. Classes of a reasonable size based on the space and the equipment again to make sure we’re not packed in there like sardines,” said Gracia.
In Washington, it's a little different. Starting Monday, gyms will be allowed to reopen for one-on-one training by appointment only, some low-risk sports training and open to 25% capacity in Phase 2, when things improve.