Gym Owners Want NYS to Let Them Reopen

"Why our health isn't in phase one, I don't get,"

Tom Puckett
May 26, 2020 - 4:00 am
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Buffalo, NY (WBEN) Gyms and fitness centers are among the businesses that remain closed due to the coronavirus pandemic and  just when they will be permitted to reopen remains a mystery. 

Many area gym owners wonder why their businesses can't be open now as New York is in the process of reopening the state in four phases and gyms have not been assigned a phase just yet. WBEN has learned that gyms will not be included in phase two, but where they will fall beyond that remains to be seen.

"Why our health isn't in phase one, I don't get," says Robbie Raugh of the Raw Truth.

"Honestly, we're opening other businesses, and even when businesses weren't open, people would go into places like Lowe's and pack next to each other. We're talking about being able to make accommodations for people to boost their immune system and exercise, and do it in a safe way." Raugh says the gym she teaches classes at is working on making those accommodations to meet those guidelines. "We gotta open the gyms, and unfortunately, no one's talking about it. Yes, we can't have a lot of people next to each other. We need to have time to wipe down the equipment and clean the rooms," says Raugh. 

Raugh says she's been teaching classes by Zoom and people are itching to get back into the gym.

Raugh says the earlier the reopening, the better. "There are ways we can do it to make everyone safe and prevent the spread of disease, just like in every other business," notes Raugh. She says there are concerns about people working out from home. "People are exercising without expertise and that could cause injury, and we are in a safe environment in the gym. Someone could go out for a run and have unfortunately a cardiac event. Being in a facility where you have expert advice and professional people who can help you work through things," adds Raugh.

Robby Dinero of Athletes Unleashed in Orchard Park says gyms shouldn't be closed. "Not just gyms, everything should be open.

There shouldn't be anything closed right now, this is ridiculous, asinine, and it's not helping," says Dinero. "Americans don't react with fear and hiding indoors. This is no different than a terrrorist attack. This is not how we react when someone leaves a bomb at the Boston Marathon. We don't lock our doors, we don't stop going to movie theaters, we don't stop going to grocery stores, we don't respond to fear," says Dinero. He claims our 1st and 14th Amendment rights are being trampled on.

Dinero last week opened up his facility. "It went very well. I have a 7,500 square foot facility. I had nine athletes show up. Even if I had 20 athletes show up and had them all inside, each person would have had 100 square feet of personal space," says Dinero. He says five of them were outside for running workouts.

He says he got a visit from Orchard Park Police. "Before it started, police showed up. There was no workout going on when they showed up, so there was nothing for them to cite me for, and they left," says Dinero.

Dinero says he plans on opening up his gym again next week, and is getting legal advice. 

Dinero says some detractors have said he's selfish for opening up his gym. "I empathize with their feelings, and I'm sorry if they're scared of virus and scared of catching it. Freedom is not expendable and it's not part time. Their fears cannot infringe on my freedom to live my life without fear. They can duct tape their entire body for all I care. Their fear cannot impact our ability to live freely," says Dinero. 

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