Gym reopens against state orders, reports rise in signups

KENTWOOD, Mich. (WOOD) — A gym in Kentwood is back open in defiance of the governor’s order to remain closed for now.

The owner said he has seen a jump in membership since opening Monday.

On the frond door of Endurance Fitness off 60th Street near Kalamazoo Avenue SE in Kentwood, a sign says you should home if you are sick. There are several hand sanitizer and cleaning stations inside, but beyond that it’s business as usual. No masks or temperature checks are required.

Members are back to their normal routine and others are joining them. Gym owner Jason Fuhrman said 80 people have joined in the three days the gym has been operating again.

“This place is like a second home for me,” member Donny Riley said. “I love coming here. It’s such a stress relief.”

He considers the gym essential to his life.

“Very much essential,” he said. “I go through a lot of things like depression and things like that and this place helps a lot with things like that.”

Fuhrman, the owner, said he couldn’t care less about a $500 fine or 90 days in jail for defying the order.

Endurance Fitness owner Jason Fuhrman speaks with a client on June 18, 2020.

When asked what made him decide to open, he replied, “Freedom.” Fuhrman feels that as a business owner in America, he should have the right to open his doors. He said he is concerned about the health and safety of his patrons, which is why he closed for three months. But he said that if other businesses can now reopen, his should be able to, as well.

“(The gym is) certainly safer than someone working on another human body. Human-to-human contact where it is with a massage therapist or with a hair stylist or with a dentist or with a tattoo artist. I’m not saying those businesses should be closed. I’m glad that they are open,” he said. “But if they are open and they are safe — because they wouldn’t be open if they weren’t safe — certainly a gym is safe.”

The Kent County Health Department disagrees, ranking gyms as high risk for spreading the virus. COVID-19 is spread through respiratory droplets. Working out increases the frequency and intensity of your breathing, which means the potential for spreading the virus is increased. 

When asked what he would say to people who feel he is putting money before the health and welfare of the public, Fuhrman replied, “I’m putting money towards the health and welfare of the public.”

“I could care less if I make a dollar off of any moment that I am in business,” he continued. “I am in business to help people.”