As gyms reopen, industry association says more to be done

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Advocating for fitness clubs’ success in Michigan won’t end once gyms can reopen with restrictions Wednesday.

The Michigan Fitness Club Association formed as a result of the state-mandated shutdown due to coronavirus that lasted more than give months. It now represents about 150 gyms across the state.

“To be able to help people and give this industry a voice, health is so important,” the association’s vice chair Alyssa Tushman told News 8 Tuesday. “Health is wealth, truly. Without your health, you have nothing. That’s why we got into this industry. So this shutdown was so just financially devastating, but it was so devastating for the mental and physical health of so many people and to be able to give an industry with so little voice, to give it a voice meant the entire world to so many people.”

Tushman is also a co-owner of Burn Fitness based in metro Detroit. She’s a cancer survivor and said public fundraisers or other advocacy events never really extended beyond cancer awareness until the pandemic hit. That’s when she got involved with the association and began calling on the state to lift the closure order.

“I think when somebody tells you that an industry is not safe, I think people start to believe you and it’s our job now to reiterate how safe we are,” Tushman explained. “I think people are going to see and maybe take notice of the fact that we are so clean and we care so deeply about people’s health.” 

The association recently shared findings of a study that concluded health clubs are not spreading COVID-19 at rates feared by decision makers. The study was conducted by a company that provides member management software for gyms.

Tushman said MFCA’s efforts won’t end when gyms can reopen at 25% capacity Wednesday. Those getting active will also be required to wear a mask.

“We would love to continue working with the governor and we’re so grateful we are open,” she said. “We want to continue working with her to get the Michigan population healthy and at some point, that means lobbying to get tax credits or FSA, HSA credits for memberships because all we care about, at the end of the day, is the health of our population. That’s how you fight a pandemic.”