Philly gym owners fight COVID-19 closures, restrictions

By KYW Newsradio

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — A group of small gym owners in Philadelphia have come together near City Hall to fight the city’s recent COVID-19 restrictions that will shut gyms down for six weeks. They say the data doesn’t support closure.

“Our petition has over 3,000 signatures. We just really rallied as a community to come together and fight,” said Gavin McKay of Unite Fitness, one of the leaders of Philadelphia Fitness Coalition.

He said the group of 30 gym owners — many on the brink of closure — was founded two weeks ago.

“We were holding on by a very thin margin of just break even or losing money throughout the summer, and this is sort of that last effort,” he explained.

Osayi Osunde, owner of Fit Academy, said they’ve rolled out COVID-19 safety measures like temperature checks, mandatory masking and increased cleaning.

The group has tracked 318,000 gym visits, identified 33 cases of coronavirus and zero transmissions at their gyms. Osunde said the recent closures “doesn’t quite have the data to represent it’s actions.”

And with winter approaching, he said they won’t be able to provide services outside in the mornings and evenings.

The coalition wants more small business funding and to be identified as an essential business given the connection between mental and physical wellness and fitness.