Minnesota fitness center coalition upset over state's COVID-19 regulations

'There hasn't been a clear line of communication for what we can do'

The Morning News with Dave Lee
May 21, 2020 - 9:45 am

Frustration reached an all-time high on Wednesday for Minnesota fitness club owners, employees, and members when Gov. Tim Walz announced clubs would not reopen June 1 as originally thought.

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That frustration was echoed by Anytime Fitness CEO Chuck Runyon, who joined Dave Lee during the WCCO Morning News on Thursday.

"There are nearly 1,000 fitness centers and studios across Minnesota, most of which are small business owners," Runyon said. "It's been frustrating. We were led to believe June 1 that with modifications, which we have been going back and forth with and very open to how we do this, and yesterday we heard for the first time that it would not be happening."

Runyon is part of a fitness coalition in Minnesota that has been working with state leaders, including Gov. Tim Walz, to get fitness centers reopened. Anytime Fitness, which has clubs in all 50 states, plans to reopen over 1,500 locations nationwide in the near future.

"We have been thoughtful in how we approach Minnesota and taking measures to open safely and responsibly. Quite frankly, what's been proposed is more stringent than most of the other states that we are in, we're fine with that," he said. "There hasn't been a clear line of communication for what we can do. It's a patchwork approach to which businesses can open and which cannot."

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Physical distancing, signage, cleaning, and distancing equipment are just some of the plans fitness clubs are proposing in an effort to reopen. Despite Wednesday's announcement, Runyon says he still wants to work with leaders to speed up the reopening process.

"Give people the opportunity to understand how our businesses operate," he said. "We've invited them to visit our clubs and other fitness centers across the state to see the modifications we can make. I promise you, we are every bit as healthy, if not healthier, than Home Depot, Target, a grocery store, and hair salons. Those businesses should be open too, but we're willing to make those medications. It's very fair and absolutely necessary on behalf of our small business owners across the state."

Related: Decision on the Minnesota State Fair coming on Friday

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