Saturday, May 9, 2020
Ed and I drafted and sent this letter today. Created out of almost desperation mostly from a lack of communication as to any future opening date. Initially we were in Phase one, then excluded in the beginning. Then we (meaning gyms and fitness centers) were not mentioned at all with all of the focus switched to other sectors of non-essential businesses. While we’re not blind to the fact that our industry does not draw from a large lobbying or political sector, we do feel the benefits of our industry with the kind of crisis we’re currently in is being sorely overlooked.
If you have the time to copy, paste and/or edit as you see fit, we encourage you to share this and let’s try to apply a little pressure socially, as we have no influence otherwise.
Edward J. Farina, Ph.D., MBA, P.T.
Samantha Farina, MBA, C/PT(ASCM)
Rebels for a Cause LLC d/b/a CrossFit Rebels
2077 Sunnydale Blvd
Clearwater, FL, 33765
May 9, 2020
Dear Governor DeSantis & Re-Opening Florida Task Force:
We’re writing to you as constituents, small business owners, and members of a community who have been hit very hard by COVID-19.
My husband and I own a CrossFit affiliate in Clearwater and this is our 9th year in business.
As of the date of this letter we have been closed for 54 days.
While we have benefitted from the Paycheck Protection Program, time and money are running out, and more importantly, we are watching the physical and mental health of our community of children, teenagers, adults and senior citizens suffer. As business owners and professionals in the health and fitness industry for collectively over 50 years, we are pleading with you to consider the following:
- either allow health studios/gyms/fitness centers to reopen with social distancing policies and CDC-compliant cleaning and disinfecting procedures,
- or separate those of us in this very diverse industry who have our members/athletes arriving on a schedule, with class-based attendance to open, again using social distancing policies and CDC-compliant cleaning and disinfecting procedures.
The “health studio/gym” industry varies dramatically in set up and not all of us have a lot of machines and equipment spaced three feet apart and operate as a “come when you want” business. CrossFit Gyms, Orange Theory, F45, and Title 9 are local small businesses who operate with a class-based schedule and who can control attendance. And even the local “big-box gym” set ups are more than prepared to socially distance their clientele and limit occupancy.
We reviewed the list of Re-Open Florida Task Force members and we were sad to see no one representing our industry on the list. Without sounding overconfident, perhaps the inclusion of someone active in our industry could have helped shed light on our plight?
It came to our attention that a CrossFit affiliate in Melbourne, Florida WAS allowed to open with the support of local law enforcement and government. We won’t go so far as to attempt to compare our fitness facility with a physical therapy practice because we respect the credentialled separation between medical and wellness/fitness, but this is how this gym presented its case to remain open. We will, however, state that our industry has a carry-over component and is complimentary with both physical therapy and general physician services with respect to:
- the known benefits of exercise in improving blood markers, blood pressure, body composition, bone density and many more aspects of physical health;
- the fact that exercise increases insulin sensitivity and combined with a healthy diet which is a part of our gym culture, prevents and can even reverse type 2 diabetes;
- the mental health of allowing individuals who care for one another to safely commune.
At a time when every newscast purports the fact that advanced age and co-morbidities (inclusive of suppression of every benefit of exercise we mentioned above) are a main factor in those succumbing to the virus, it baffles us as to why we’ve continued to be pushed back and not allowed to open.
We are pleading with you to allow us to open as we don’t consider our services optional or non-essential especially when a health crisis is afoot. The healthier an individual is, the less likely, if exposed to COVID-19, an individual’s symptoms will be if they contract the virus and the less likely they will succumb to the virus. So, in effect, preventing individuals from training and communing regresses their overall health and therefore it’s more likely COVID-19 would have an aggressive effect on them. We believe that the overall health of our members is contingent on their eating healthy (which they do, except possibly when they are confined, stressed and less active), exercising, and able to see friends and peer in our “sport of fitness”. While as professionals in this industry we are worried about their physical health, we are becoming more worried about their mental health. The financial strains are also building. Please consider our plea.
Ed and Sam Farina
CC: Frank Hibbard, Mayor, Clearwater, FL
Bob Gaultieri, Pinellas County Sheriff
Daniel W. Slaughter, Chief of Police, Clearwater, FL