Skubick: Gyms hit hardest by COVID shutdowns seeking financial help from legislators

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LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — The coronavirus took a huge chunk out of the fitness center business in our state, and 6 News Capitol correspondent Tim Skubick took a look at at how they are doing now.

“We are holding our own. Since restrictions were lifted, we’re starting to see people coming back,” said Bryan Rief, President of the Michigan Fitness Clubs association.

The fitness industry was one of the hardest-hit segments of the economy, as the governor’s shutdown meant the treadmills sat silent, as did the cash register out front.

With the lifting of all restrictions earlier this summer, the industry is trying to get back on its feet and get more feet on those treadmills.

The president of the Michigan Fitness Club Association reports the industry in Michigan lost about 250 businesses.

“Prior to the pandemic, we had over 1000 gyms in Michigan. We will have lost about a quarter of them.”

Mr. Rief believes that COVID deaths were linked to victims who were also overweight, had diabetes, and hypertension and since many persons gained weight during the pandemic, he has shaped an ad campaign to turn those numbers around.

“Part of our advertising features the surgeon general. The message is ‘your health is essential.'”

The customers coming back to the gyms who are unvaccinated are asked to wear a mask, but that is not mandatory. Gyms are also keeping safety protocols that were used when the restrictions were modified.

The Association is asking both Washington and Lansing for financial help.

The Senate GOP budget chair Jim Stamas is working with the group to use COVID federal dollars to help the economic recovery for gyms.

“Gyms and fitness centers were some of the hardest hits in the midwest and we are working on targeted relief for gyms and fitness centers,” said Rief.

He hopes for a vote on that financial aid this fall.  

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