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California Fitness Alliance Seeks to Restore Access to Fitness, Files Action

California Fitness Alliance

On September 15, the California Fitness Alliance (CFA) announced it has filed legal action in Los Angeles County Superior Court, with the aim of restoring reasonable access to indoor fitness. 

According to a press release by the alliance, CFA believes the state government should not continue preventing Californians from having equitable and safe access to indoor fitness centers and the proven benefits, including maximizing their resilience to COVID-19, that exercise provides to their physical and mental health. 

“CFA is taking this action reluctantly,” said Scott J. Street, the CFA attorney and partner with Musick Peeler & Garrett LLP. “Its members not only complied with the initial eight-week shutdown, but many were proactive in shutting down prior to the statewide stay-at-home order in March, as a demonstration of their commitment to the health of their communities.”

Street went on to say that since then, CFA has worked with Governor Gavin Newson’s office and state health officials on safe reopening plans, that have since stalled since the indefinite extension of mandated closures for gyms statewide. 

“Unfortunately, the indefinite extension of a virtual statewide shutdown and unfounded rules restricting access to fitness centers are jeopardizing the health and well-being of millions of Californians who need a safe and secure place to exercise,” stated Street. “It is also having a devastating impact on the many thousands who serve in fitness, most of whom got into the industry because they believe in helping people lead healthier lives.” 

According to Cory Brightwell, the CEO of Chuze Fitness and CFA advisory board member, the association feels they have run out of options to keep communities healthy, and as a result are being forced to file this action reluctantly.  

“Discussions with the state have failed, and we are facing a health crisis for our citizens who don’t have equitable access to exercise, and the real prospect that our businesses will never reopen unless these rules are modified,” continued Brightwell. “Not all Californians live in places that are conducive to outdoor exercise, whether due to weather, smoke, lack of open spaces or security concerns. Minority communities are particularly disadvantaged. CFA is acting to protect the ability to provide safe fitness opportunities for members, allow businesses to survive and preserve the jobs of California’s passionate and dedicated fitness-industry workers.”

Francesca Schuler, CFA founding partner and CEO of In-Shape Health Clubs, echoed these sentiments, further stating data has showcased gyms can be reopened safely. 

“Despite repeated requests for information, California has not shared any data about the sources of outbreaks in the state, but a CFA study revealed that of the more than 5.5 million members who checked into 285 fitness centers between June 12 and July 13, only 0.002 percent of those members tested positive for COVID-19,” said Schuler. “Importantly, not a single outbreak from within those centers was reported as a result from those visits. Louisiana and Colorado have allowed gyms to open and have published data about outbreaks in their states that has shown that gyms are no less safe than any other type of public-facing business, including restaurants, retail, churches, factories, car dealerships, hair salons and schools.”

In addition to this legal action in the Los Angeles Superior Court, CFA announced individual fitness providers are considering filing lawsuits in other counties throughout the state challenging the closure of indoor fitness.

The California Fitness Alliance is the united voice of fitness professionals in California, advocating for access to fitness for all to create a healthier California.

Rachel Zabonick-Chonko

Rachel Zabonick-Chonko is the editor-in-chief of Club Solutions Magazine. She can be reached at rachel@peakemedia.com.

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