Local Michigan gym staying open despite appeals court ruling
NILES, Mich. --- Gyms and fitness centers across Michigan were supposed to reopen Thursday morning but an appeals court upheld Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s coronavirus emergency order keeping them shut down.
It was ruled Friday that gyms in Michigan could reopen but a three-judge panel appealed that decision late Wednesday Night.
The panel made the decision just before 9 p.m. saying that the public could be at risk from a second spike of COVID-19 infections.
The ruling has gym owners frustrated, to say the least.
“At this point there’s no rhyme or reason for gyms not to be open,” Gary Marshall said, the owner of Fit Stop 24. “I know that she stated that there’s a lot of breathing heavy in gyms. There’s breathing heavy everywhere you go, crowds of 100 or more, I mean come on. Let’s be real.”
With locations in both Dowagiac and Niles, Marshall has had his doors open at Fit Stop 24 for the past two weeks. He’s not charging his members to use the gym for the time being either.
“I am getting fined. I am getting fined $500 a day. It sucks. It’s frustrating cause you think you’re doing the right thing but they’re saying otherwise,” Marshall said.
It wasn’t a light-hearted decision to make either. Marshall says he’s thousands of dollars behind on his rent payments and the fines aren’t helping but he says keeping his gym open is important to the communities he serves.
“A lot of members reach out to me in regards to mental health, PTSD, depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, stress, and this is their outlet. It’s a part of their daily lives,” Marshall said.
Some gym owners like Denise Peters, COO of the Niles-Buchana YMCA, are abiding by the ruling and keeping their doors shut. Peters says she can agree with being extra precautious.
“We totally understand keeping our community safe and we want to do that,” Peters said. “So we want to support the health department, and the CDC studies, and what Governor Whitmer has said. It’s just very disheartening and heartbreaking for us because we miss our people that come in here and we know they miss us.”
Marshall, on the other hand, doesn’t see eye to eye with the Governor.
“It’s just reached a point now where it feels like she’s bullying the situation. You know she’s taking advantage of a situation and it’s our livelihood,” Marshall said. “I have worked super hard to be put in this position. So if I’m going to go out, if I’m going to lose my business, I’m going to do it on my terms and not hers.”
Governor Whitmer’s office released a statement after her appeal was granted saying: “Today three Republican-appointed judges got it right: in the fight against a global pandemic, courts must give governors broad latitude to make quick, difficult decisions. The governor will continue to take the actions necessary to save lives.”