Owners of gyms in New York State are banding together to fight for the right to open their doors again after a long, costly shut down. Gyms were supposed to open in Phase 4, but last week Gov. Andrew Cuomo said it was too soon for them to open.
“I just don’t know how a guy can shut down an entire industry without any data,” said SC Fitness owner Charlie Cassara. “And this is coming from someone who says everything is about the data.”
Cassara owns two gyms, one in Hicksville and another in Farmingdale. He says his membership has fallen by sixty percent. To delay the reopening of gyms, Cassara argues will effectively close businesses for good.
Cuomo had raised concerns that air conditioning inside gyms could spread COVID-19. But gym owners argue that in the summer, most businesses use air conditioning and they don’t know why they are being singled out.
“We are not looking to hurt anyone, it’s about safety first — but we do provide a service,” said Cassara.
Debra Frolich, the owner of Row House studios in NYC, wants more re-opening guidance and timetables from Albany.
“Some of the language that has come from the Governor’s office suggested maybe not until a vaccine, maybe not until next year. That’s not viable for a fitness business,” said Frolich.
Frolich and Cassara are part of a class action lawsuit, suing New York State for not allowing them to open. Attorney James Mermigis plans to file at the end of the week.
“While we do understand the serious nature of this disease,” said Mermigis. “These people have a business, they need to support their families and they are on the brink of losing everything.”
A spokesman for the Cuomo administration issued a statement saying, in part,
Jack Sterne, Administration Spokesperson: "While we can not comment on a lawsuit that has not even been filed yet, every decision we make is based on data and expert analysis, and we are continuing to study how and when indoor gyms and fitness centers can open safely. New Yorkers need to remember we are still living in a global pandemic -- and as states around the country are showing, acting recklessly will only lead to a slower reopening for everyone while putting more of our neighbors in harms way."