All posts by Jordan Kummer

Lifting Lockdown: Episode 10

Wait two weeks, Georgia will be Italy, you’ll see.
Wait two weeks, Georgia will be New York, you’ll see.
Wait two weeks, Georgia will see a surge, you’ll see. —- “A month since Georgia took some of the earliest and most extensive steps to reopen parts of its economy, COVID-19 cases have largely flattened in the state, albeit with a slight recent uptick.”

Week Six starts Friday! — The Atlantic’s “Georgia’s Experiment In Human Sacrifice” is this pandemic’s “Dewey Defeats Truman.”


Previously on Lifting Lockdown:
– PA’s government quietly backed off the term “new normal” in exchange for “nothing past green.”
– Catholics and Lutherans got a ban on large gatherings lifted in Minnesota.
– Gyms continued opening across PA, regardless of what the Governor wants.

Tonight, Atilis goes to court, and we continue to untangle the “well-coordinated” northeast reopen and the trainwreck it refuses to stop being.

1.) Atilis —- Something I missed last episode. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said that the state would allow professional sports teams to begin training camps. This would include the Sky Blue FC soccer team the Governor owns.

But train at Atilis and you’re a criminal because reasons. —- Speaking of which, it was perhaps inevitable that it would reach this stage, but Ian Andrew and Atilis Gym are going to Federal court over the lockdown. The argument, of course, is that Gov. Murphy is operating well outside of his authority. —- Ian posted the lawsuit on his public Facebook. — FOX News’ Senior Judicial Analyst Andrew Napolitano gave his thoughts on the case as well. He seems to think the gym has a pretty decent shot in court, because the Governor is largely making up laws.

2.) PA —- The green phase has changed AGAIN since we last met. It at least SEEMS like gyms are open in the green phase, but with capacity at 50%

Reference Lifting Lockdown Episodes 8 (last Wednesday), and 9 (last Friday), and now here. —- Danko’s All American Fitness opened. It was cited. — Meanwhile, Webb’s World of Fitness is also still open, and patrons aren’t too concerned.

From the article: ““I’m not worried whatsoever,” said Joel Brayton, a five-year member of Webb’s. He was just about to start his two- to three-hour workout on Friday around 11:30 a.m., when there were around 27 cars parked in the gym’s parking lot off Cypress Hill Drive.

As a power lifter, Brayton’s point of view is simple. “Gyms should be open.”” — Officials in Hempfield are now looking for Gov. Wolf to end the red-yellow-green stuff and just reopen the economy. — Gov. Wolf’s pattern thus far has been to loosen restrictions and such in line with his opponents’ movements. As this timeline shows pretty well, Wolf has developed a tendency to veto Republican actions, only to mimic those actions. —- Meanwhile, Democrat Presidential Candidate Joe Biden says that Gov. Wolf’s reopening plan is a model for the rest of the country.

This is a “model for the country” only if you hate your citizenry.

3.) Physical health. —- New study out of the UK says that the lockdowns from Covid-19 risk a spike in chronic diseases. This is yet another study on the added costs of long-term lockdown that we have been told to ignore by Gov. Wolf and others.

4.) 614 Barbell. —614 Barbell’s Eric Miller posted this awesome reflection on the reopening of the gym in Columbus. He writes that “no matter what side of the fence you sit with this whole pandemic, just try and remember no matter how tough it might be for you now it is a lot tougher for someone else.”

It’s a solid read, and worth checking out.

5.) Final thoughts.

It’s worth being upfront with you. I am always wondering, at this point, whether an episode of Lifting Lockdown will be out-of-date the moment I release it. Wolf’s changed the metrics so fast it’s impossible to figure out if they’ll change today, or during Wolf’s presser tomorrow, or perhaps next Wednesday.

The pressure is building on Gov. Wolf, from Republicans noting that they are leading, to businesses opening regardless of his order, to the growing economic damage in PA, to the growing ECONOMY in other states (such as 614’s home state of Ohio).

I continue to believe at this point that Wolf is racing people. And he’s behind. He’s behind the GOP leadership in the House, as seen by his following their ideas almost to the letter. He’s behind businesses, who are contributing more to the economy than they would under his plan (and whose rebellion has resulted in loosening green phase restrictions). Finally, he’s behind other states, as they open faster and are more than eager to be where PA residents spend their money.

And, remarkably, the language is softening. What was once phases and restrictions is now phases and “increased guidance.”

Tomorrow should be interesting, but he has lost control. Small businesses, churches, and non-profits are defying his order, supporting their communities, and ultimately lifting the lockdown.

Lifting Lockdown: Episode 9

Originally posted 26MAY2020

I reject the “new normal” proposed when we last met for Lifting Lockdown. It’s a cute phrase, alongside “we’re all in this together,” “this is only temporary,” and other worthless trash people tell themselves.

Restaurants, an industry known for razor thin profit margins, will only be able to operate in PA at half capacity for the so-called “Green Phase.”

Gyms, which have been closed for 2 phases (with a few exceptions from people who can’t be asked to believe that “self-suffocation” is *helpful*), are also able to operate at “50% capacity.” Nobody’s really sure how a lot of these businesses will have the capacity “restrictions” enforced. But they shouldn’t be there in a supposed return to normal phase. The idea of a “new normal” was quietly added during the 22MAY presser. Dumping garbage just before a holiday weekend is a classic political move when you don’t want rancid ideas to be seen by many people.

In any of the strength sports, coming at a high weight with 50% effectiveness is a great way to get hurt. It also goes against the reason one got into lifting to begin with.

Thus, going forward we will not entertain the idea that this “new normal” has any place in reality, or any basis in reason. The irony of going into Independence Day under arbitrary, economically destructive restrictions isn’t lost on me, and I presume it isn’t lost on you.

Previously on Lifting Lockdown:
– Atilis’ fight with the NJ government continued.
– Still nothing happening at PwrBld, despite the promises of doom from people around the area.
– PA’s utter trash fire of a “green phase” was quietly made worse.
– We examined the apocalypse that isn’t happening in either Georgia OR Florida. The same apocalypse PA is being promised by a Governor with a self-styled warrior complex.

Tonight, we continue our focus on PA, discuss the future of powerlifting meets, and look more broadly at the revolt against lockdown.

1.) PA — Two gyms in the Pittsburgh area have opened despite the Governor’s orders. Gyms aren’t licensed, according to DPH, so they don’t have quite as much to lose as the restaurants that have had their liquor licenses suspended. —- Supersets Gym is opening as well, and is looking at citations. As we’ll discuss throughout tonight’s episode, businesses are starting to open en masse, so this ultimately will be impossible to enforce. According to Supersets’ owner, the troopers were respectful and said they were only “doing a job that allows them to provide for their families.” That went over about as well as you’d expect. — It is no longer just the gyms. Now the restaurants are starting to revolt. Restaurants have been taking a beating in recent weeks, as the industry has never operated on wide profit margins. Many in the state are starting to offer in-person dining as well, and are usually getting slammed with supportive customers. — The lockdown in PA is becoming a political issue, with Wolf’s claim of needing a vaccine before reopening becoming the joke it was meant to be. — But businesses are noting that the vaccine, at this point, is a hope, not a real thing. So they need to open now, or they won’t be around for when the vaccine releases. —- The situation is made worse by the obvious fact that there is no guarantee the vaccine will even be effective.

2.) Powerlifting Meets. And now, a brief reminder of USAPL Nationals meets, slated for the remainder of the year.

Youth Nationals: 14AUG
Open Nationals: 14-16AUG, NGB 17AUG
Bench Nationals 6-7OCT
Raw Nationals: 8-11OCT
All of which at Ocean Center in Daytona Beach, Florida.

Collegiate Nationals 20-22NOV, Greater Philadelphia Expo Center.
This, of course, hinges on the “large gathering” restrictions in PA going away by November, which isn’t the sure thing it looked like last Friday before the rules changed.

3.) Lifting the Lockdown. —- Gyms have “led the way” in defying shutdown orders. Leaving aside the attempts to connect Collin Whitney with a political movement (namely, the Tea Party), this article is an excellent look at PwrBld, Atilis, and others. —- PA’s State House is continuing to try and curb the Governor’s executive powers, as well.

Note something from the article:

“Members of PWRBLD Gym in Conshohocken this week booked 90-minute time slots to work out, ensuring no more than a dozen people were in the space at once.”

The issue of sanitation, supposedly the ONLY issue keeping gyms closed, seems pretty well dealt with. And if you are not convinced….try to get that degree of control (much less cleanliness) at a Walmart. —- Meanwhile, when he isn’t living out his warrior fantasy on Twitter, Gov. Wolf is splitting his time between lying about and attacking businesses, county leaders, and basically anyone who refuses to be suffocated by his fast- and quietly-changing reopening phases. This is also the kind of behavior of someone who knows they are losing the argument.

Also, despite my jokes earlier, the term “new normal” was quietly removed from the “Reopening PA” website. —- Finally, in Minnesota, it’s not the gyms leading the way, but the churches. Catholics and Lutherans threatened to defy the large gathering ban, noting that retail establishments and other “non-critical” businesses were permitted to open.

In response, the Governor lifted the ban on in-person services.

In PA, it is the lifters, the supposed meatheads leading the charge (just look at all the garbage comments thrown at Whitney and Atillis’ Ian Smith). In MN, it is the Christians. —- Or, in some cases, it’s both. The restrictions placed on churches and such has not gone unnoticed by pastors outside of those lockdowns. This is a sermon delivered by my friend and powerlifting pastor Steven William Davenport in North Dakota. The relevant portion for us is a brief digression at around 39:15, where our constitutional/rule-of-law system is discussed. Specifically, the observation that “some governors have forgotten that we’re a nation of laws.” This is used as a comparison to the government depicted in the book of Daniel, but applies beautifully to our current situation.

(And yes, it’s worth hearing the rest of it. I have often said that going from the gym to church is “going from one sanctuary to another.” Full disclosure: Shared with permission.)

(Also, before anybody jumps down my throat or his about this, the history of discussing constitutional rights from the pulpit is nothing new. Indeed, churches played a huge role in the American Revolution; given that religious liberty was one of the core beliefs OF the Revolution. That’s outside the scope of Lifting Lockdown, but it’s worth putting out there as a friendly “don’t even start.”

Frankly, we need more of this, not less. There’s a rant there, too.)

4.) Final thoughts.
The dam is breaking. From PA quietly removing parts of their “phase” plan like they remove deaths from their totals, to churches breaking the doors down in some states, to gyms breaking the doors down in others, the lockdowns are coming apart.

In addition, with every week that passes, the states of Florida, Texas, and Georgia continue to lack the surge that was practically hoped for. Indeed, cases have been falling so quickly that it may not even be possible to test vaccines to any reliable extent.

North Dakota, by the way, did not lockdown. Nor did SOUTH Dakota.

The arguments are collapsing.
The gyms, the churches, and the restaurants are rebelling.
It’s only a matter of time before we lift the lockdown.

Lifting Lockdown: Episode 8

Originally posted 22MAY2020

Previously on Lifting Lockdown:
– Atilis Gym continued its fight in New Jersey.
– Nothing happened at PwrBld gym, despite the promises of doom made from everybody who knew nothing about small gyms.
– Ohio’s Stay-At-Home order expired.

Tonight, we continue to monitor Atilis, we briefly discuss new developments in USAPL, and we add another gym to the list of PA gyms opening despite Wolf’s orders.

We’ll also discuss Wolf’s efforts to pretend everything’s fine, and everyone accepts businesses being suffocated.

1. ) Mental health. When I first started working with James Townsend, he floated a theory that physical exercise could decimate the anti-depressant industry. In other words, regular and vigorous physical exercise would serve as a boost to mental health.

I’d like to begin tonight by discussing that thesis of Lifting Lockdown: That mental health has been damaged by the lockdowns, and the lack of physical/mental health resources. — Earlier this week, more than 600 doctors signed a letter to President Trump saying that the “national shutdown” has “exponentially growing health consequences” ranging from missed checkups, to substance and alcohol abuse. — The effects of lockdown have come to include a rise in suicides.

The stuff that, if brought up, would lead to accusations that you “don’t care about old people,” or “don’t care about the well-being of others,” are being shown to be far more damaging long-term than Covid-19. Largely because the lockdowns are allowing for more problems to hit entirely different groups of people. 1 group with shaky mental health, another with shaky financial health, another group of people in abusive relationships, etc.. All being hit in different ways, but as a result of the same thing.

It’s going to be something that will be very difficult for some to come to grips with; that “stay home, save lives” did nothing of the sort. —- Now, as we discussed back in Episode 3, people fretting about whether lockdowns have made people MORE sedentary, and the long-term physical/mental damage that could come from that. — Episode 3 also featured this incredible article on why it was a mistake to close gyms and other fitness centers during a pandemic.

2.) Atilis — Bringing up a 2007 arrest didn’t seem to work, so now we’re dealing with Atilis owner Ian Smith being accused of being a white supremacist. —- After the Health Department tried to shut them down, they were able to open regardless without incident Friday.

3A.) PA: Reopening.

As if PA couldn’t blow up its own recovery any worse, they quietly changed the meaning of the green phase to include the phrase “not a return to the way things were, but changing behavior for a new normal.”

Yeah, screw that. —- There’s a whole ton of other stuff that is classic PA bureaucracy (read: counterproductive on a level humans aren’t supposed to be capable of), including limiting restaurant capacity to 75%, but the point is that the “green phase” isn’t less of a fear-mongering waste of time than the other 2.

Put more bluntly: We need more PwrBlds. We need more facilities to ignore the “phases.”

Luckily, we’re getting more PwrBlds.

3B.) PA: Gyms
I am now firmly of the belief that Collin Whitney in the east half of PA, and Jeremiah Snyder in the west set off a movement in the PA gym scene. First it was PwrBld publicly announcing a reopening regardless of Gov. Wolf’s orders on 08MAY, while Alpha Fitness quietly opened around the same time. (The opening of the latter seems almost limited to Snyder’s public Facebook; reference Lifting Lockdown Episode 3.)

10X Fitness announced a reopening out of nowhere on 10MAY. They were closed down 2 days later.

When 10X went offline, Danko’s All American Fitness announced plans to reopen (reference Lifting Lockdown: Episode 2)

Just NW of PwrBld, Transcend Fitness went live 15MAY (reference Episode 5)

Meanwhile, charges against a gym in Hermitage were dropped. (Episode 6) —- Now we have a gym in Allentown, opening this Sunday…. —— ….AND a gym in Plum opening for business in Allegheny County. Monty Webb, of Webb’s World of Fitness was very frank on his take on proceedings:

““I think Wolf’s a freaking (expletive),” Webb said. “He’s either that much of a wuss, or there’s some agenda here. It’s not this virus. You don’t get this time back. They take high school sports away from them. This is a political sham.””

Sidebar: My thanks to Collin Whitney for putting up with my repeated questions and updates on this subject. When (and if) PA opens up fully, hopefully around the time of Collegiate Nationals, I owe it to the man to stop by PwrBld after all the crap I’ve thrown at him. The man has been very patient with me.

4.) States Fights —- CT is extending restrictions on gyms and large gatherings to around 20JUN, but Governor Ned Lemont is looking to open gyms, “other personal services” on that date. — And because I want to keep making this point, here’s Reason’s take on the Ohio case. The judge ruled that Ohio’s lockdown was “arbitrary, unreasonable, and oppressive.”

5.) Florida, Georgia, and the demise of both. —- “Bad press and favorable results” is a good way to explain Ron DeSantis’ approach to Covid. — It’s also a great way to discuss Georgia’s approach. —- The destructive surge that was promised simply isn’t happening. —- As this Bloomberg op-ed notes, “Lockdowns haven’t proved they’re worth the havoc.”

The question is only in determining what damage the lockdown has caused.

Lifting Lockdown: Episode 7

Originally posted 20MAY2020

At Elite Iron, my friend and mentor Will Lumberjack Thacker Jr. gave me the nickname “Recon” because I had more or less become EI’s info nerd.

I’m fairly confident that I’ve been living up to the nickname given by the MSGT. Covering 4 states on the regular, multiple other states when warranted, covering roughly 6-8 gyms directly, and speaking with the owners of about 3 of them on a semi-regular basis.

So yeah….nationwide recon.

Anyway…..good evening.

Previously on Lifting Lockdown:
– Oregon’s Stay At Home order was given the Wisconsin treatment, and axed by a Supreme Court.
– Atilis Gym in New Jersey saw court summons handed out like ammonia tablets to staff and members.
– Texas opened up as the state enters the second phase of its reopening.
CORRECTION: “Just a correction… the Oregon Supreme Court struck down the lower court’s ruling.

So Oregon continues to remain in lockdown.” —- Matthew R. Lang


Tonight, we continue to check the legal fight with Atilis Gym, Ohio gyms are able to open with immediate effect, and a gym North Carolina is raided by police for violating the Governor’s orders. Plus, Illinois police stand against lockdown orders.

1.) Atilis Gym —- Ian Smith was apparently involved in a fatal 2007 drunk driving accident. He went into detail about it here. The comments on this post mirror my own, and it is here for the sake of completeness and not hiding anything. —- Moving on to things that HAVEN’T been “resurfaced” as a way of distraction from the main issue, here is the view on last night’s arrest outside the gym mentioned in Episode 6’s addendum. —- They aren’t going anywhere, and are apparently planning to challenge ALL of the citations in court. —- It has been interesting to watch the fight between the two. From this maneuver of pulling gym members over where cameras AREN’T….. —- to having their plumbing backflow shortly after the Governor threatening to use the DPH to shut them down.

2.) States Fights

Snap Fitness:
[H/T Mike Shaw] —- Moving on to this bizarre situation of a gym in North Carolina raided by police for being open. Because that’s the age we live in right now. —- The gym’s owner, Marine Raider Nick Koumalatsos, laid out the full story in an IGTV post earlier today. —- PA has decided that it was a bad idea to stop testing nursing homes. This accidental surge in logic came as a result of a Spotlight PA story calling out the fact that they stopped testing nursing homes just as this pandemic was getting warmed up.

I point this out to demonstrate that the people who are responsible for “making sure its safe” had to be forced to inspect the one type of facility packed to the brim with high-risk patients. — The Governor thinks we can only return to normal when people feel “perfectly safe.”

So good luck, PA.

Ohio Gyms: — [H/T Mike Newbern] —- The Ohio approach involved a two-pronged attack. The cominbation of testifying before the government while SUING the government has now come full circle. A judge put in a preliminary injunction that effectively opens gyms immediately. —- This as Ohio’s stay-at-home order expires.

Those of you in Western PA, I recommend a brief weekend for CBUS, and 614 Barbell.

Illinois: [H/T Aidan Littlefield] — Illinois state police are saying that they will neither arrest or jail people who defy the Governor’s lockdown.

Alright, that’s it for today. We are starting to see a really interesting (and really dirty) fight in Jersey, PwrBld’s reopening has gone quite well, Ohio’s reopening just got a nice shot in the arm, and many police are not bothering with trying to stop the lockdown from breaking.

4.) The future —- ABC News has this surprisingly solid look at the state of the gym/fitness center industry. Gyms are under a microscope (including from people who know about how gyms work, but mostly from people who don’t).

Also, for all the talk of how horrible small gyms are, it’s not the small gyms facing lawsuits for charging lockdown fees. As Dave Tate notes, it’s usually the smaller gyms that are checking in on how their members are doing. Small gyms tend to be a family of sorts. They look after the equipment, and each other.

For now, we will leave it there. We will continue to monitor Atilis, PA, Ohio, and Snap Fitness in North Carolina, and any other major lockdown stories as they develop.

But, as a final thought, consider the entirety of the last 7 episodes.

The lockdown is breaking. Whether the methods used to break the wall are through stay-at-home orders are expiring (Georgia) or because people don’t trust their government (PA), it is breaking nonetheless. It won’t last as [H/T Donna Marts] — With CDC reversing a lot of its guidance on how the virus spreads, and with most states seeing hospitalizations decrease, the argument for perpetual lockdown continues to degrade. —- [H/T Mike Newbern] —- That the promises of doom people put on Georgia and for Florida haven’t materialized only makes that case more evident.

The only thing keeping businesses closed is fear. Nothing more.

We will be here to cover when everything inevitably breaks, and everyone can get back to lifting…..without lockdown.

Lifting Lockdown: Episode 6

Originally posted 19MAY2020

Previously on Lifting Lockdown:

Multiple gyms in the northeast prepared to open REGARDLESS of Governor’s orders.

Ohio gyms prepared for their statewide open.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis pressured the Governors of other states to loosen their lockdowns as well, calling the lockdowns “draconian.”

Tonight is the big one in Lifting Lockdown. Tonight, we discuss the opening of those gyms, how governors reacted, how law enforcement reacted, and what it looks like going forward. We will discuss the virus more broadly, as well.

1.) Baselline —- On Sunday, the US Health Secretary said that there has not been a spike in states that have opened. This is surely crushing to people still looking for the surge Georgia was prophesied to have. — Meanwhile, in an email to members, LA Fitness announced that it would open its Georgia facilities this coming Friday.

2.) States Fights: Before we get to the recap, a quick summary of news from around the country. —- [H/T Brody Kennen] —- NOLATAC brings us this story of a gym in Las Vegas, CrossFit Apollo, opening with overkill sanitation protocols, basically no money, and a visit by multiple police officers. The gym’s co-owner, Monica Cole, wrote about the incident on Facebook. —- The gym is now preparing for legal action. — [H/T Collin Whitney] — A series of gyms in Pasadena, CA are making the case for opening their facilities in lockdown, noting the cleanliness and safety that small, controlled buildings provide in terms of the health of those in the building. — [H/T Reed Mazzie] —- A judge in Oregon has taken the Wisconsin approach of axing Stay At Home orders with apparent immediate effect.

Alright, let’s do this.

3.) Monday recap. We’ll do this by gym, in alphabetical order. First up, Atilis Gym, Bellmawr, New Jersey. —- Leading in with this story from ABC 6 in Philly about businesses struggling to stay afloat while being locked down. —— This is from before the gym opened, as supporters gathered outside. —- [H/T Joe Rittenhouse] —- “Formally, you’re all in violation of an executive order. That being said, stay safe and have a good day.” The first interaction with law enforcement. —- The full details on that first interaction. —- This is a taping of an interview with the local FOX station. — The Governor of New Jersey, offered a carefully worded statement, saying he would enforce the order, but wouldn’t start “World War 3.” —- That came in the form of a court summons. In a statement on Facebook, Atilis owner Ian Smith said “there is a possibility our members and staff will be issued those same summons – up to $1,000 fine and 6 months in jail. We will open our doors regardless. Our lawyer has not only agreed to protect us, but our staff and members as well.” —- GoFundMe —- A GoFundMe has been set up for the occasion. —- They reopened again on Tuesday, and were cited again on Tuesday. Odds are they’ll open again on Wednesday.

On the subject of wasting time prosecuting, let’s move on to PREP Fitness in Hermitage, PA. A quote from the DA:

“In the scope of the number of cases and their severity I could not justify the resources necessary to prosecute several dozen summary offenses, equivalent to the traffic ticket, on a recalcitrant business owner.”

Next up, PwrBld in Conshohocken, PA.
In two separate IG stories posted yesterday, PwrBld Gym owner Collin Whitney noted that he “almost feel more excited today” than he did on the gym’s original opening day, and that there hasn’t been much pushback.

In fact, a number of new members to the gym ARE law enforcement:
“I would say half of the [new members] are law enforcement, first responders of some kind. These people need the gym. When you work in a high-stress environment, the gym is your stress relief; it keeps you physically healthy, but also mentally healthy. How gyms weren’t considered to be essential, it blows my mind.”

There is a gym in Scarsdale, New York that seems to be gearing up for its own opening regardless of the Governor there, Iron Vault. But I’m waiting for more info on that one.

Third Coast Strength Solutions: [Kudos and congrats to Ram Hernandez] —- Gyms in Texas opened state-wide yesterday. A lot of media types tried to tie a surge in cases to the reopening the same day. That “surge” was due to increased testing in and around Amarillo, Texas. Not due to reopening.

Transcend Fitness: —- And finally, Transcend Fitness in Bucks County, PA.

4.) Closing thoughts. We will continue to watch all of the gyms posted above, but one common thread is forming as far as criticism.

Nobody wants to talk about WHY the gyms are opening, or why the cleanliness standard that is applied (and passed) to gyms doesn’t apply to other businesses. The logic usually goes like this:
1.) “We can’t have gyms open because they aren’t clean.” (SOLE issue of cleanliness posited as the issue.)
2.) The gyms are practically drowning in disinfectant. It’s certainly cleaner than most Walmarts (SOLE issue RECTIFIED.)
3.) “But Walmarts are essential. They have food.” (SOLE issue CHANGED because reasons.) —- As this fear-mongering trash from shows us, this is usually followed with some sort of hand-wavy “I understand people are hurting, and many businesses won’t make it.” All it took was a government decree and people don’t really care that much for the fact that half their city is losing everything. It’s a “small price to pay,” and merely “frustrating.”

This is unacceptable. If the sole issue is taken care of, there is no reason to backpedal to some other reason for the sole purpose of keeping a business closed. Furthermore, if people are hurting, and the damage is preventable, there is no reason to keep hurting people for a series of fast-changing rationalizations.

Effective this Friday, Georgia will have been largely open for 4 weeks. We have not seen the surge that was promised, and businesses are looking after themselves and their customers.

Fear, not any sort of logic, is keeping these businesses closed. COVID-19 is not some strange disease that somehow doesn’t impact Wal-Mart but will absolutely destroy a PwrBld or other small, controlled facility.

The fact that some are waving off a ton of businesses simply going under should be terrifying. It is fatalism writ large for a virus that does not deserve such fatalism, as the virus can be wiped out (depending on the product, quite literally) with any EPA-registered disinfectant.

The logic of “essential vs. non-essential” has broken down. The arguments for keeping businesses closed has, as well. The arguments against PwrBld and others changing to “well, they’re still non-essential” (a ridiculous proposition), is proof of that.

Lifting the lockdown will prevent further damage. We cannot in one breath say “we’re all in this together” and in the next, come up with a series of reasons why someone will just have to deal with losing everything, waving it off as “frustrating.” — Or we can wait, and risk everything for a virus that isn’t anywhere near as deadly as feared.

The arguments in favor of that proposition should be interesting. — [H/T Joe Rittenhouse] — But even if the arguments are as boring as they have been, as the Mises Institute points out, citizens may destroy the lockdown on their own.

Congrats to the gyms opening this week.

I look forward to seeing how all of the gyms evolve, regardless of whether they are lifting under lockdown.

Lifting Lockdown: Episode 5

Originally posted 16MAY2020

Previously on Lifting Lockdown:

PwrBld’s reopening got attention from the ABC in Philly. Opening a discussion on the economic impact of lockdown (that most on ABC6’s Facebook desperately avoided).

The two-pronged approach used by gyms in Ohio got results and a reopening date.

Tonight, following up on PwrBld and a SECOND gym looking to open in the Philly area as PA admits it never really had a plan for the “green” phase while admitting the virus has peaked. Also, we run around the country to check in with states that ARE opening. Georgia, by the way, is entering its FOURTH week with gyms open.

I was hoping to wait for after 18MAY, but that’s not happening in what looks to be a week for lifting lockdowns.

1.) PA —- PwrBld’s Collin Whitney is making the rounds, as the Philly-area gym gets set to open this Monday. In an interview with CBS Philly, Whitney observes that “I just feel like if a Walmart can be open and there are a 1,000 people in there and all they’ve essentially done is put some tape on the ground, why can’t we have a chance to keep our business alive as well?”

I am going to bang on this drum until it breaks. The best part of watching this has been a ton of people typing VERY ANGRY missives about how OUTRAGED they are at how DIRTY gyms are….from the phone in their day-old-gloved hands. —- Transcend Fitness, a gym in Newtown (about 50 minutes NW of PwrBld if you take the Turnpike), opened earlier today. —- [H/T Branden Kummer] —- As if to demonstrate that something poorly handled can always be handled worse, PA Health Secretary Rachel Levine more or less admitted that they don’t have any sort of criteria for moving from “yellow” to “green.” —- At the same time, the DPH as acknowledged (or, depending on how much credit you give them, admitted) that the virus has peaked in PA and that the rate of infection has been declining over the last 14 days.

A decline in infection rate over 2 weeks, by the way, is part of the WHITE HOUSE criteria from moving between phases. That guidance has been out for weeks, but was barely acknowledged by the same people who now admit they built an entrance for the reopening, but not the exit. —- [H/T Leigh Gower] There is now a movement to require emergency proclamations to need legislative approval to go past 30 days. Can’t imagine why.

2.) States Fights —- In Ohio, gyms are gearing up after finally getting a reopening date after a week or two of lobbying and lawsuits. —- Joe Sullivan posted the guidelines Ohio gyms will be following during the reopening. — [H/T Quintin Meyer] —- Meanwhile, gyms are now open in Wisconsin after the state Supreme Court tossed the stay-at-home order. This also caused individual counties to toss theirs. Among the gyms opening is Limitless Elite Gym in Appleton, about a half hour SE of Green Bay. Co-owners Quintin and Sara Meyer noted to KLUK that “if it would have happened a month prior to when it did, I don’t know if we would have gotten through it.” —- [H/T Donna Marts] —- Meanwhile, Idaho is getting a little more aggressive in reopening. Gyms, hair and nail salons, and dine-in restaraunts went live today as the state entered the second of its four-stage plan. Bars were bumped up to Stage 3, when they were at 4. —- Ian Smith, owner of Atilis Gym in Bellmawr, NJ, is another gym owner looking to open on Monday regardless of state orders. In an interview with FOX News’ Tucker Carlson, Smith says that NJ Gov. Phil Murphy “has presented zero plans and I think my business partner and I have a plan to keep people safe,” that the gyms actions are grounded in “civil disobedience,” and that they “reject the premise of essential versus nonessential businesses.”

Much like Whitney, Smith notes that the argument used against gyms in regards to cleanliness is hand-waved with regard to Walmarts.

On his Facebook, Smith notes that he will be on FOX And Friends at 6:20 AM tomorrow morning on the FOX News Channel. —- [H/T Ryan VanCleave] —- Washington State Governor Jay Inslee has said that he can’t guarantee the state will move into its second phase of reopening on 01JUN. So good luck to gyms in that area. — Finally, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis made an interesting argument in regards to their reopening. Gyms will be able to go live on 18MAY.

I say interesting because of the following excerpt from WTVT, the FOX in Tampa Bay:
“”This is a respiratory virus that tends to attack people who have health problems or are not in good physical condition. So don’t we want people to stay in shape?” DeSantis continued”

This was the argument Friendship Fitness’ Jeff Binek made back in late April, see Lifting Lockdown: Episode 3.

With that, we look forward to Monday, with a growing movement in PA of disregarding Wolf’s plans (now that it’s clear he doesn’t have any), and gearing up for lifting under lockdown.

Good luck to the gyms and other small businesses in the Northeast.

Lifting Lockdown: Episode 4

Originally posted on 14MAY2020

Previously on Lockdown Lifting:

A two-pronged effort in Ohio, one being a lawsuit, the other testifying before government officials.

More states opened up, to the horror of those who still think THE SURGE is coming (for the sixth week running).

Plus, the opioid crisis is even more of an issue because of COVID-19.

Two stories tonight. As the pressure builds in PA, the Ohio approach gets results.

1.) PA. —- Before we go anywhere, check out the video attached to this article. It’s from ABC 6 in Philly, about PwrBld Gym opening despite Gov. Wolf’s orders. It’s a balanced report, and more or less challenges people to consider the economic impact of lockdown. Collin Whitney did damn well on that broadcast.

Note, by the way, that people IN business aren’t surprised by Whitney’s movements, and expect other businesses to follow suit because they would prefer to not starve. That is the argument that must be countered, and good luck with that. —- Meanwhile, the revolt in PA is getting national attention. This article showed up in the LA Times and, while it tries to give Wolf the benefit of the doubt, it also notes the economic damage of the lockdown, and how many counties are starting to consider opening regardless.

It also demonstrates Wolf’s ongoing warrior fantasy:
“He pledged to withhold coronavirus aid from them and branded them “cowards,” accusing them of “choosing to desert in the face of the enemy, in the middle of a war that we Pennsylvanians are winning and that we must win.”” —- The article also highlights this WaPo-Ipsos poll, framing the support as “more than 2 in 3” supporting Wolf, while neatly concealing the sample size. In actually, the poll only had anywhere between “219 to 962” people interviewed per state.

2.) Ohio. —- After a ton of pressure in not much time, Gov. Mike Dewine announced that gyms can reopen on 26MAY provided they meet “safety protocols.” It’s long overdue, but as my friend Mike Newbern points out, gyms and other physical activity centers were among the last industries to get even a passing glance from Ohio’s government.

By the way, to fall back on the discussion about PwrBld, allow me to bring up something else.

Georgia opened pretty aggressively. Neighboring states did not. — Data shows that people who lived in those states came here.

As other states around PA open, PA itself will be hard pressed to find reasons to stay closed.
Suffocating small businesses has, so far, only resulted in that business either going elsewhere or opening in defiance of the government, as we’re seeing with PwrBld and many other gyms.

But, as a closing thought, if there is going to be a revolt against government overreach, why WOULDN’T it start in the Philadelphia area?

More as it develops.

Lifting Lockdown: Episode 3

Originally posted on 13MAY2020

Previously on Lockdown Lifting: —- We learned that some are now starting to worry about if the lockdowns have damaged Americans’ long-term physical and mental health.

We checked out a gym called Danko’s All American Fitness, which has joined the growing list of PA gyms looking open sooner rather than later. PwrBld near Philly released the guidelines for their reopening, as well.

And Trump is slated to visit Allentown tomorrow.

Tonight on Lockdown Lifting, I feel compelled to shift the focus a bit, and discuss public health more broadly. Tonight, we follow up on 10X Fitness, we discuss the impact of the lockdowns yet further, and check in on Ohio.

1.) Pennsylvania. —- [H/T Leigh Gower] —- Perhaps surprising to nobody, 10X Fitness in Taylor was hit with about 4 citations and forced to close. In a statement released on the gym’s Facebook page, they stated that they have “shown how important mental health is to our community and the vital role a gym plays.”

10X says they are exploring “any and all” possibilities for reopening. I asked if there was any way to support them from outside the area (Taylor is out by Scranton), but as of this moment I have not heard back. — Over at Alpha Fitness in Chambersburg, PA, we have this photo of who I presume to be the owner, Jeremiah Snyder, talking to a police officer. It’s rather obvious that Snyder has no intention of shutting down. —- There is a GoFundMe set up for legal fees and related costs for operating. —- [H/T Elysa Sanchez] —- And now, a lesson in tone-deafness. From the article: “While Levine beefs up rules and oversight at nursing homes and long-term care facilities, ABC27 learned the health secretary’s mother recently vacated a personal care home in the Midstate.

“My mother requested, and my sister and I as her children complied to move her to another location during the Covid-19 outbreak,” Levine said. “My mother is 95 years old. She is very intelligent and more than competent to make her own decisions.”” ——- The basis of releasing the lockdowns is because people CAN make their own decisions, and should be allowed to. This only ends with “well, it’s different when *I* do it.” —- State Representatives have also highlighted the Health Secretary’s comments.

2.) State’s Fights. — [H/T Donna Marts] —- Wyoming gyms will now be able to go live, including open locker rooms and personal training, on Friday. —- [H/T Quintin Meyer] —- Wisconsin’s Supreme Court has shot down an extension of the “Safer at Home” order in the state. With no backup plan, this effectively means all businesses are able to open. —- [H/T Mike Newbern] —- In what is starting to feel more like a personal vendetta over the Arnold than any rational thought process, “hair salons, barbershops and other personal services, as well as outdoor seating at bars and restaurants” will be allowed to reopen Friday, in addition to “Massage services, tattoo parlors and piercing businesses,” according to the Cincinnati Enquirer. But, for some reason, not gyms. — Also in Ohio, the lawsuit we discussed yesterday has now made headlines. It’s good to see this thing get exposure. Ohio is becoming as active as PA is in regards to gyms fighting the lockdowns.

3.) Public health. —- [H/T Leigh Gower] —-The lockdowns may have made the opioid crisis even worse. This ties in nicely with the discussion yesterday about the lockdowns damaging people’s physical and mental health.

For the record, they’ve generally made EVERYTHING worse, including domestic violence, child abuse, and mental illness. This is just the latest layer. — Finally tonight, I want to pull this bit out from the archives. Friendship Fitness is a gym in Central Ohio. In this blog post from April, they discuss the events of the lockdown in Ohio, and how the government there apparently views health and fitness facilities. Friendship’s Jeff Binek makes the case that such facilities should have been seen as partners in public health, not as being a “recreational” facility on par with Laser Tag.

It’s a fantastic read, and demonstrates the rather counterproductive logic of closing down the businesses best equipped to help people prevent or mitigate sickness.

It is almost sad to see, frankly. As Binek notes in the article, boosting one’s immune system, among others, is one of the best tools against things like COVID. In addition, more people die from a host of other *preventable* diseases, namely cardiovascular.

A lot of governments told everyone they wanted people to be healthy, while undermining that concept at every turn. I imagine he is reading that Time article, wondering where the rest of the country has been for the last month.

18MAY continues to be a big day for Lockdown Lifting. We’ll almost surely see more gyms take matters into their own hands, but for now we will leave it there.

Lifting Lockdown: Episode 2

Lockdown Lifting: Episode 2 Previously on Lockdown Lifting: A petition in St. Louis aimed to open gyms, saying that gyms were “absolutely essential” to mental and physical health. (Because they are).

We checked in on efforts in Ohio to go the legal route, testifying before a legislature….and efforts in neighboring Pennsylvania to kick the doors open regardless. (Think of it as conventional vs. sumo.)

We heard from the leader of Corpus Christi-based Third Coast Strength Solutions, Ram Hernandez, on their plans to open in Texas on 18MAY, alongside other gyms in the state.


Tonight, we discuss the aftermath of events from Episode 1, we bounce around the raging trash fire that is the “well-coordinated” northeastern reopening, and check in on other states in the process of letting the oxygen back into their economy. —- True to its word 10x Fitness in Taylor, PA did indeed open. It was promptly cited by police. The DA says the law is in place to “keep folks safe,” and is NOT one of the DAs who have been saying they will not prosecute businesses which open in defiance of Wolf’s order. —- Another PA gym, Danko’s All American Fitness, has announced plans to reopen soon as well. —- Collin Whitney’s PwrBld Gym, which had already announced plans to reopen, laid out the rules for that reopening earlier today. Collin tells me a handful of other gyms are also planning to open up on 18MAY. —- Meanwhile, here is yet another DA saying he won’t prosecute businesses that open in defiance of Wolf’s orders. —- Finally, while not powerlifting-related per se, it’s worth noting that Trump is planning to show up in Allentown on Thursday. He is ostensibly there to tour a medical supply company, but he has also made comments about how “the great people of Pennsylvania want their freedom now” and taking regular pot shots at Gov. Tom Wolf, alongside most of the country.

(Sidebar: How ironic/depressing would it be for PENNSYLVANIA to go into INDEPENDENCE DAY in LOCKDOWN? Anyway…..) —- In a 7-minute long video, Ian Smith of Atilis Gym in Ballmawr, New Jersey states that they will go live on 18MAY, and lays out his reasoning. He notes that the models went from being near-apocalyptic to….not, that large businesses are permitted to operate with no restrictions, and that the current closures are at best hypocritical. Regardless, it’s worth checking out. —- New York also has a phased reopening, but nobody’s really sure what businesses fall into which category. —- Meanwhile, Joe Sullivan and Tim Cassell of Ohio-based Pinnacle Performance testified before the Ohio House 2020 Economic Recovery Task Force. —- What came out appear to be a list of guidelines for gyms to follow. In a rarity for northeastern governments (hello PA), they also seem to note that there is no “one size fits all” approach. [H/T Mike Newbern] —- Of course, the direct approach is also perfectly acceptable, with independent gyms suing the state to reopen.

[H/T Jill Kummer] St. Louis County is suing to force two independent gyms to close. The county wants a Joe Corbett, owner of the House of Pain gyms to close, AND turn over the names and contact information of everyone who has been in the building. In addition, the County wants Corbett to pay for the testing of everyone on that list. Corbett’s attorney notes that the state has allowed gyms to open, and that the county’s order tries to overrule it. —- South Carolina is slowly coming back online. Yesterday, Governor Henry McNaster announced that salons, gyms, barbershops, and other “close contact businesses” would be allowed to open on 18MAY. —- Finally, a gym in Arlington, WA has decided to open in defiance of the Governor’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order. (That’s an awkward sentence, if there ever was one.) The state has a 4-phase reopening, with gyms reopening in phase 3. Trouble is phase 2 isn’t expected until at least 01JUN. For now, that is the state of play.

We now look forward to 18MAY, but that’s all I’ve got for today.

Lifting Lockdown: Episode 1

Originally posted 11MAY2020 — St. Louis gyms. — Pinnacle Performance in Ohio — Elite Fitness in Gatlinburg, Tennessee – PwrBld Gym in Conshohocken, PA (i.e. just outside of Philly). Opening 18MAY. — 10X Fitness in Taylor, PA. Now open.