Michigan gyms, fitness centers remain closed

Gyms closed due to coronavirus concerns

A federal appeals court late Wednesday halted a lower judge’s ruling and kept closed gyms and fitness centers that Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer ordered shut months ago to curb the coronavirus.

DETROIT – As restaurants continue to welcome back customers, gyms were set to do the same thing, that is until a last minute decision from a Federal Appeals Court. That decision struck down a ruling from a lower court and ordered gyms stay closed until the governor decides they can reopen.

READ: Appeals court: Michigan gyms, fitness center remain closed

For any avid gym goer, an empty gym is a good thing. Armond Harris, the owner of Jabs Gym in Eastern Market said it allows you to workout without any interupptions, but this scenario is a little different, “Today was supposed to be the grand re-opening if you would right. We’ve been open for 4 years, and today was supposed to be that excitement all over again,” said Armond Harris.

Harris said like many gyms, he shut down his gym, to follow the Governor’s orders, “I’m just acting like Governor Whitmer’s is training me and she told me to give 10 more days or 20 more reps and I’m just going with that with whatever decision she makes.”

But hearing the news to stay closed, “Man it was almost like, the anticipation of Christmas Eve. It was almost like Christmas got moved to the 29th,” said Harris.

For many gyms, the last week has been an emotional rollercoaster. On June 19th, a Federal Judge ruled that indoor gyms could reopen Thursday, but that all changed late Wednesday night. The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals granted Michigan Governor Whitmer’s motion to keep Michigan gyms closed.

“The gyms, we kind of feel like, I won’t say picked on, but picked on,” said Joseph ‘JB’ Braxton with Powerhouse Gym Grand River.

Joseph Braxton or ‘JB’ is what his friends call him, is the owner of Powerhouse Gym on Grand River, in Detroit. He also thought Thursday was the big day. He even did renovations, “I spent money that I very well needed to pay the bills with. I’m in a bad spot. Honestly, about $20,000 so far, but I really don’t want to run a calculator through.”

“Grindtime Fitness is a movement, it’s not just a gym,” said John Houston Smith with Grindtime Fitness.

It’s a movement, John Houston Smith with Grindtime Gym on Wyoming, on Detroit’s Westside said, he takes seriously, “We created a concept called ‘Find your Why.’ So we spray painted the letter ‘Y' in the parking lot 6 feet by 6 feet apart. So when people show up, they literally have to find their Y and workout on their Y,” said Smith.

Smith said he planned on incorporating this concept, with his Grand Re-opening celebration, welcoming members back to the gym Thursday, but those plans go canceled, “Today we were supposed to happen, um but we got a little delay. “We were a little disappointed that we couldn’t open up initially, but we got over it. Because this ‘Find Your Why’ concept actually allows more space for our members.”

But not all gyms have the luxury to continue to do business outside. Ryan Hitsman and Brandon Pringle with Anytime Gym in Troy, said they’re not so lucky, they have to stay focused, “Extended closure was a bummer, but you know in all my brother and I wanted to make sure we followed the protocols, and rules obviously,” said Brandon Pringle with Anytime Gym in Troy.

But when asked if they agree with the Governor’s decision, “I’ll say, I’ll agree to disagree,” said Pringle.

“I totally agree with Governor Whitmer’s decision to keep everything closed because she has a different perspective than we have,' said Smith.

The Attorney General office released this statement:

We empathize with business owners and understand that many people are anxious to return to their normal exercise routines, but the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision accurately takes into consideration the risk involved in reopening gymnasiums and fitness centers too soon. Michigan has come a long way in flattening the curve of COVID-19 cases, and the rising infection rates seen right now in other states is an alarming reminder of what could happen here if we act on impulse instead of science and the advice provided by medical experts. Under the Court’s decision, gymnasiums should remain closed. Facilities that remain open may be subject to misdemeanor penalties. We trust our partners in law enforcement throughout the state to make those gym owners in violation aware of the required closure and to use their discretion and authority in dealing with any violations that are reported.