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Fitness industry sues Gov. Whitmer to negotiate when gyms can reopen

Officials has 6-phase reopening plan

LANSING, Mich. – More than 120 gyms are suing Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer over her stay-at-home order, alleging their constitutional rights were violated by not including gyms and health clubs on her list of businesses or industries set to open as the state moves through its 6-phase reopening plan amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

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The suit, filed Friday, was on behalf of the League of Independent Fitness Facilites and Trainers which claims the Governor’s order has deprived gym owners of their right to liberty and their due process rights. The suit also claims the Whitmer is responsible for some non-COVID deaths by closing gyms down back in March.

“Depression is at all time high and say, anxiety is through the roof. Stress is through the roof and the data and science show that fitness and fitness facilities and working out help with depression, anxiety and stress,” Attorney Scott Erskine said. Erskine added his wife owns three fitness centers.

Right now, gyms aren’t explicitly mentioned in the Whitmer’s 6-phase plan to reopen. No personal touch business like barbershops, salons or spas are. Which is why Erskine said the lawsuit is different than two others recently ruled in the Governor’s favor which were saying her executive order or the extension of the order were illegal outright.

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“My clients, aren't saying they should have been open on March 16, they're not saying that they should even necessarily be open today,’ Erskine said. “But what we're saying is that right should belong to the business owners not to the government. Our clients, my clients are the experts, as to how to open a gym safely.’

Health officials are still wary of reopening gyms and health clubs where customers are normally close together, using the same equipment and breathing heavily; all things doctors say could spread the virus. Still, dozens of states have already opened gyms including Michigan’s bordering states which Erskine said should push the state to work with gym owners to move to reopen.