Small gym owners in Triangle ask Gov. Cooper to reconsider allowing them to reopen


BENSON, N.C. (WNCN) — Owners of small gyms across North Carolina are begging Gov. Roy Cooper to amend part of his latest executive order about reopening businesses in the state amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Phase Two of reopening the state began Friday at 5 p.m., but the plan no longer allows gyms to reopen as it initially did.

“I got angry. Very, very angry. I cried and then I just said ‘survive.’ Just figure it out. Here we are. Figuring it out,” said Liz Brozowski.

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Brozowski owns XR Crossfit in Benson and was gearing up to reopen after COVID19 forced her to close her business for the past nine weeks.

Sunday would have been the gym’s first day of classes.

“If you see what these gym owners are doing, the small gym owners, they are doing everything they can to meet every specification, every guideline,” she said.  “Why can’t we open?”

In preparation to have a maximum to 10 people inside her gym, she taped out nine boxes on the floor, and put individual equipment and cleaning spaces in each one.

“They’ll basically do everything in their box. There’s plenty, plenty of room,” she said.

Her plans changed Wednesday afternoon when Cooper announced a new version of Phase Two. The new plan only allows restaurants, salons and pools to reopen with cleaning and distancing restrictions.

Bars, fitness centers, and indoor entertainment facilities are left out of the order. 

The new version of phase two is also prolonged to five weeks, lasting until June 26th as opposed to the two-week period in Phase One.

“I feel like I kind of had the rug pulled out from underneath my feet,” said the owner of Panther Creek Crossfit Joel Schlieman.

Like Brozowski, Schlieman was preparing to reopen his Cary gym over the holiday weekend.
He says he’s disappointed smaller gyms are lumped in with big-box facilities.

Schlieman says he’s confident he can safely hold class by capping the number of people allowed inside, spacing them out, and frequent disinfecting.

“It’s just that conversation we want to have of this blanket order without any discussion, without any process.  It’s incredibly frustrating.  You feel like your voice is being taken away,” he said.

Schlieman says there is a group of gym owners considering filing a temporary restraining order to challenge the governor’s exclusion of gyms in court, similar to legal action churches took. 

Brozowksi would also like Cooper to reconsider, saying gyms are not only important for people’s physical health, but their mental health.

“I just ask reconsider, just reconsider,” she said.

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