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Some gym owners defy mask mandate as Metro Detroit gyms reopen

‘It’s a new norm for us to get through,’

After nearly six months since Gov. Gretchen Whitmer closed gyms statewide, many Metro Detroit gyms reopened Wednesday, but not every gym is the same in how it handles protocol.

“My Job is to make sure Michiganders are safe. That’s my concern,” Whitmer said. “We need to be careful. We know if you’re breathing heavily and we’re in enclosed places.”

READ: Michigan gyms set to reopen Wednesday -- How to stay safe while working out

Most gyms are following the mandate, like Lifetime Fitness.

“Masks are obviously a little bit unique when working out," said Lifetime Fitness GM Alex Gruin. “I think that’s the only thing that’s out of the norm right now for everybody.”

While others are choosing to allow a member to make the decision on if they want to mask up or not.

“The science says masks don’t work,” said Gold Gym’s owner Don Larson.

Larson said he’s not going to require members to wear a mask, despite the Governor’s order.

“They don’t work,” Larson said. “It’s just whatever the reason, it’s not science, that’s for sure.”

No medical facts support the claim masks are dangerous or ineffective. The CDC, the NIH and the WHO all urge residents to wear a face mask as the main way to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Some people are concerned their mask will trap too much carbon dioxide while working out, but there’s no evidence that’s true -- oxygen and carbon dioxide can move freely in and out of the mask, even during exercise.

Ultimately gym goers will have the final say so in how they exercise. Either way it’s going to be unlike any work out gym members have ever done before.

“We have spotted sections where people do have to stand and be sectioned apart from one another for social distancing. It’s been going pretty smooth," Gruin said. “But it is different. There’s no doubt that it’s different. It’s a new norm for us to get through.”

Both gyms are being sanitized around the clock. It’s too early to know if there are going to be any consequences for the gyms that want to operate their own way.


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