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CA gyms, fitness clubs celebrate ‘significant victory’ as they challenge state COVID-19 restrictions

Blake DeVine/KEYT

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    STOCKTON, California (KCRA) — This week, members of the California Fitness Alliance are celebrating what they call a significant victory in their legal fight to reopen indoors.

The fitness organization, comprised of health clubs, boutiques and studios across the state, filed a complaint in September challenging the indefinite shutdown of indoor fitness establishments. According to the CFA, on Wednesday a Los Angeles Superior Court Judge denied the State of California’s motion to dismiss the CFA’s complaint.

“We can continue to fight for indoor fitness which is super important,” said Kris Mulkey.

Mulkey is the Chief Marketing Officer of In-Shape Health Clubs, one of the members of the CFA.

“We know that the data shows that we are not super-spreaders of COVID, and the data also shows how important fitness is for your mental and physical health. So we are going to continue to fight so that people have more access,” she said. “Outdoor fitness is great, but we don’t have it everywhere and we want to be able to open up indoors.”

According to the CFA, the state has 20 days to respond to the complaint. The next hearing is in February when the judge is expected to set a trial date.

Meanwhile, gyms that have the means are focusing on their outdoor operations heading into the New Year.

“The gyms are ready. We’re ready for members to come back. We’re pivoting with the times,” Mulkey said. “We’re seeing lots of new memberships. In fact, over the past couple of days, they’ve doubled.”

Under the state’s current regional stay-at-home order, most gyms across the state can only offer outdoor operations. Given the restrictions, Mulkey said In-Shape does not have the number of members they used to have before but are surprised with how many members are coming back. This comes as fitness chains like In-Shape have been forced to file for bankruptcy amid the pandemic.

“It’s a big deal, but we’re going to get through it, we’re going to get past it,” Mulkey said. “We have new investors lined up already. So we’re excited about the future and it’s not going to stop us. It’s not shutting us down at all. We are ready to go and open and have big plans for this year.”

Mulkey said In-Shape still has 20 clubs open and they are offering a big discount on new memberships with a New Year’s promotion of $20 per month with $0 enrollment.

“All of the clubs in California are really excited to welcome everyone back. The teams are ready to go. It’s going to be a really exciting new year. We’re ready to put 2020 behind us and just start fresh,” she said.

Personal trainers are also doing what they can during the pandemic. Caleb Fong runs a one-on-one training program, called Body by Caleb, solely online. He has been operating under this business model for three years after previously training people in person.

“It gets people to realize that they can do this on their own and they have the potential and the ability to do this and all they need sometimes is a little guidance and a push in the right direction,” said Fong. “A little strategy, a little knowledge on what’s going to work.”

Fong said business improved for him this year with double the number of new clients signing up during the pandemic compared to last year, in part because of his online model.

“I’m very, very grateful and humbled that my business is in a spot to be able to handle this and do well,” he said.

Gyms and personal trainers are continuing to adjust into the new year.

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Article Topic Follows: National/World

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