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Ohio gym owners grow impatient with no timeline for reopening

As some businesses prepare to reopen their doors, owners of gyms and fitness centers in Ohio are becoming concerned with a lack of timeline.

MIDDLEFIELD, Ohio — As some businesses around the state are reopening, gyms and fitness centers still have no timeline. Some are preparing to go to court, while others have begun making changes to their facilities and hoping, every day for good news.

“As shocking as 9/11 and as economically devastating at the recession of 2008, but I’ve never seen anything like this in my life,” says Paul Porter.

Porter has owned Fitness Plus in Middlefield, Ohio since 1992. He along with his wife, Sophia have always shared a passion for physical fitness. It’s a passion that has served them well until March of this year.

Paul says, “It was hard to wrap my mind around, the fact that you were actually going to close your business.”

Gyms and fitness centers have been closed since mid-March. It’s gone from days, to weeks and now months. While that time has continued to add up, concerns began to grow for Paul and Sophia, the parents of 5 kids.

“The children obviously know that we’re closed, but we try to shield them from the financial aspect,” says Paul.

“It’s stressful, it’s very stressful,” adds Sophia.

“We don’t talk about worrying about paying the bills or putting food on the table, that’s stress that they don’t need,” continues Paul.

There are no guidelines set for gyms, so Paul and Sophia have begun instituting some of their own. They have a plan where everyone gets a disinfected towel when they walk in. They’ve moved all the fitness machines 6-8 feet apart, added disinfecting stations and social distance signage all over the gym. While they’ll encourage everyone to come to the fitness center dressed for their workout, they have closed off some of the lockers to maintain social distance there as well. They want to be ready to go, as soon as the green light comes.

“We’re taking the guidelines from other industries and from other businesses and we’re applying them,” says Paul. “We’re ready to go, today.”

Meanwhile 35 gyms and fitness centers have filed a lawsuit in the state of Ohio, saying they’ve been unfairly criminalized without any process to determine if they’re safe to open.

Paul says, “We’re pretty happy that they filed the lawsuit and we think it’s going to speed things along for us.”

Lawsuit or not, the Porters haven’t lost hope and know they’ll come out of this ordeal stronger than ever.

“I am a fighter, I’m not going to get taken down this easily,” says Sophia. “So, that’s one thing that I’ve tried to teach my kids too. You’ll get speed bumps in life and it’s to show you how strong you are to get over them.”

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