Gyms, fitness centers will have to close again across Pa.: ‘It’s devastating,’ one owner says


Gov. Tom Wolf announced the latest rounds of restrictions on Thursday due to COVID-19, and among the businesses that have to cease indoor operations and close for three weeks are gyms and fitness facilities.

This is the second ordered shutdown for such businesses. They were among the non-essential businesses ordered to close in March, and stay closed for months.

The restrictiosn go into place at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday and remain in effect until 8 a.m. Jan. 4.

For Steve Kindler Jr., president of National Fitness Partners, a midstate company that owns a number of Planet Fitness franchises in the Harrisburg area, there was one word that summed up his reaction to the governor’s latest restrictions: disappointed.

“Obviously we’re just really disappointed with the direction the governor went,” he said.

Kindler said that of the 113 Planet Fitness locations in the state, there’s not one case of COVID-19 infections as far as the company knows. He said this latest setback won’t only impact his gyms.

“We’re highly disappointed in, unfortunately, another blow to the industry,” he said.

“It’s devastating for small business,” said Brittany Holtz of Studio B Power Yoga. “It’s devastating for my small business and for all of my friends that have small businesses. We all have done our part.”

She said that when fitness centers had to close previously, she thought they were closed longer than they had to be and her business still continues to be affected.

“Since then we have been operating at a small capacity, which continues to cut into our revenue,” she said.

Holtz said that many of her clients are teachers and healthcare workers who depend on her services for their own health.

“What they shared with me is our services have helped them stay healthy these last few months,” she said.

And it’s not just about improving someone’s physical health. She said that yoga helps with mental health as well.

“It’s devastating from an economic standpoint and from a mental health standpoint,” she said.

The latest restrictions for gyms and fitness centers are part of a long list of restrictions that Wolf ordered on Thursday that also include prohibiting indoor dining in addition to closing casinos for nearly three weeks.

“Today I am announcing additional, temporary COVID-19 protective mitigation measures in the commonwealth,” Wolf said. “With these measures in place, we hope to accomplish three goals: First, stop the devastating spread of COVID-19 in the commonwealth. Second, keep our hospitals and health care workers from becoming overwhelmed. And third, help Pennsylvanians get through the holiday season – and closer to a widely available vaccine – as safely as possible. This is a bridge to a better future in Pennsylvania.”

The National Federation of Independent Business in Pennsylvania’s state director, Gordon Denlinger, said that his group is concerned about the consequences of these latest restrictions.

“While acknowledging the serious nature of the ongoing COVID emergency, we again raise concern over the harm these actions will have on Pennsylvania’s small businesses and their employees,” Denlinger said in a statement. “These steps will result in another wave of business failures and the loss of all the jobs that go with it.”

While indoor gyms and fitness centers will have to close, outdoor facilities and outdoor classes can continue as long as participants wear face coverings in accordance with the Secretary of Health’s updated order requiring universal face coverings and physical distancing guidelines.

You can follow Daniel Urie on twitter @DanielUrie2018 and you can like him on Facebook.


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