Category Archives: Lifting Lockdown

Lifting lockdown: The Pitt

When I first thought about creating a timeline to make sense of the lockdown in PA, my first thought was “there but for the grace of God go I.”

Because that’s just the kind of spaghetti we’re dealing with.

What follows is at least an effort at making sense of the nonsensical. An effort at figuring out what (if anything) drove the lockdown in PA the first time, or the most recent one announced last week.

This timeline cannot be anywhere near as clean as O-H-I-O was. Any incoherence is not my fault.

Same format, different characters, and a less coherent storyline. Let’s (try to) do this.

April 23: — Gov. Wolf unveils a three-phase reopening plan for the state.

May 8: in a post on Instagram, PwrBld leader Collin Whitney announces the gym will open on May 18th.

May 11: — Multiple gyms, such as 10X Fitness in Taylor, PA, announce similar plans.

May 12: — Crawford County’s DA, among others, say that they will not prosecute businesses that violate Gov. Wolf’s lockdown orders. — Hit with multiple citations, 10X Fitness in Taylor, PA is forced to close.

May 13: — Alpha Fitness leader Jeremiah Snyder makes it rather clear that he, too, had no plans to shut down. — Gov. Wolf and Dr. Levine admit they have no real criteria for the yellow or green phases.

It’s always great when your builder builds the entrance but forgot the exit, isn’t it?

May 14: — Gov. Wolf starts to attack businesses that open in defiance of his orders; calling them “cowardly.” That didn’t go over well.

May 15: — Whitney’s plan to open PwrBld makes headlines. This leads to a torrent of messages on 6ABC’s Facebook calling Whitney just about everything; more or less saying PwrBld will be the site of the next outbreak.

That didn’t happen, by the way. — He also appeared on the Philly in CBS, asking a very simple question: if a Wal-Mart can be open, why not a gym?

It’s a question that has gone unanswered to this day. — Meanwhile, Transcend Fitness announces their intent to open on May 16th.

May 18: PwrBld Gym opens. Nothing happens beyond that for them. In an IG Story, Whitney notes that a lot of the people who are new members are themselves first responders. People who “need the gym” as a sort of stress relief.

May 20: — While all this is going on, Atilis Gym is getting what have become their daily citation. — Gov. Wolf now says that PA can’t return to normal until people feel “perfectly safe” and there is a vaccine.

May 21: — Basically, around this time, a lot of gyms did a lot of opening in defiance of a lot of orders and social media mobs. — Restaurants, which unlike gyms ARE licensed, open their doors in defiance of orders as well around this time.

May 22: — A gym owner in the Leigh Valley announces his plan to open his gym in defiance of the lockdown, calling the situation “do or die.” —- A few counties go into the green phase. PwrBld is still open, despite its home county being in the red phase. — PA quietly revamps the Green Phase, adding the phrase “changing behavior for a new normal” without so much as a press conference. The idea presumably being people wouldn’t notice the phrase change.

May 26th:
People noticed. The phrase is quietly removed from the “reopening” plan.

May 27: — Gov. Wolf finally releases guidance on the so-called “Green Phase.”

June 3: — Dr. Levine suggests that Green Phase will stick around until a vaccine is available.

July 17: — With most of the state in the so-called “green phase,” restrictions start to come more from the counties and cities than from the state itself.

July 28: — Gov. Wolf, completely lacking in self-awareness, tells Pennsylvanians to get off unemployment benefits. This is after numerous businesses close their doors as a result of the lockdown.

August 5th: — Allegheny County continues its restrictions on restaurant capacity among other things.

August 27th: — DoJ starts looking for information from several states in regard to their handling of nursing homes.

August 31st: — Setting off a series of stories of officials not following their own restrictions, the mayor of Philadelphia was forced to apologize after being photographed dining indoors at a restaurant in Maryland after having banned indoor dining in Philly.

September 3rd: — When asked to present data justifying the restrictions on restaurant capacity by a CBS affiliate in Harrisburg, the state says that information is protected.

November 16th: — Philadelphia closes indoor dining, gyms, museums until January of 2021. — Gym owners feel they’ve “been given no choice but to fail,” as an article in Philadelphia Magazine puts it. — PwrBld, located outside the city limits, does not close.

December 10: — The closure of museums, gyms, etc. expands from Philly to the entire state. A press conference involving Gov. Wolf, Dr. Levine, and a handful of others reveals a series of “frustrating” restrictions, including the outright ban of indoor dining, and the closure of gyms. — Gyms, and small businesses react pretty much as you’d expect, observing that many of them have seen no reported cases, and are being closed down regardless. —- At least, the businesses that comply, anyway. Crack’d Egg, a restaurant that won a lawsuit against Gov. Wolf, announces that they will be “business as usual” just hours after the press conference.

PwrBld also refuses to close, with Collin telling me that PwrBld will be open “Forever. Even after the zombies come.” — Other gyms have taken the same tact.

And this is where we find PA. At this point, a quiet, continuing revolt is really the only way for businesses to survive.

Whereas gyms and other businesses saw success in kicking the doors down in Ohio via the court system, PA’s Supreme Court has more or less rubber-stamped virtually everything that came out of the Wolf administration.

The sole remaining goalpost right now is, of course, the vaccines that have been slowly releasing over the last few weeks; but even that goalpost has shifted with alarming regularity in some states. PA’s government seems almost determined to go for a lockdown, while not supporting much of anything impacted by that lockdown. (The restaurant industry has seen this first-hand, with their constant “discussions” with the State about the restrictions being unsurvivable being met with near-total indifference).

The current lockdown is supposedly only for three weeks, but of course we’ve been here before. “Just two more weeks” was the refrain used for much of the summer, and most of the fall.

The hard truth is that most of the efforts that have been successful elsewhere have been exhausted in PA. Barring a ground-level revolt, or a major turnaround in the agenda of the state’s government, there does not appear to be many remaining ways to lift the lockdown.

Lifting Lockdown: O-H-I-O

As stated before, Lifting Lockdown has become a running record of lockdown efforts, the damage they’ve done, and how people have worked around them. Tonight, I present a recap of the fight in Ohio, drawing primarily from Episodes 1-6 of Lifting Lockdown.

Tonight’s structure is a little unconventional. We will start with a baseline, and move into more of a timeline of events as opposed to sections. We will not reference which episode an article is taken from, either. The point of this brief is to combine all of the Ohio fight into one single, easily accessible place.

1.) The Baseline. Let us state the obvious, given the growing body of evidence that physical activity can help prevent COVID symptoms from being severe (and boosting physical and mental health generally), there is little reason to treat gyms as an enemy during a public health crisis. Indeed, as has been discussed numerous times here on Lifting Lockdown, the industry is more than equipped to help people who already are healthy stay that way.

From the Ohio lawsuit, to New Jersey attacking Atilis Gym only to borrow their health guidelines in a sort of admission-by-plagiarism, the above case would generally need go unstated, as even the industry’s critics have tacitly acknowledged both that physical activity has a role in helping prevent COVID symptoms, and that gyms are not the source of the next outbreak.

Atilis Gym Bellmawr has rather famously started highlighting this fact, while referencing how many people have died in New Jersey nursing homes.

With that as our baseline, we can begin.

2.) Timeline.

April 27th:— Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announces a “gradual reopening” of the state. Gyms are left out almost entirely, given no real sign as to when they will reopen.

May 10th: — Pinnacle Performance testifies before the Ohio House 2020 Economic Recovery Task Force. Simultaneously, the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law files three lawsuits “on behalf of gym owners against the State of Ohio for the closure of Gyms without affording due process.”

May 12th: — The 1851 Center goes into more information about the suits, and posting the Complaint on its website. — Tattoo parlors, massage services are permitted to open. Gyms remain closed. At this point, I had referred to the decision as more a personal vendetta for the lawsuits than anything science-based.

May 14th:— Following the two-pronged approach of testifying before while suing the State, Gov. DeWine announces that gyms may reopen on May 26th, largely under sanitation guidelines that were hammered out shortly after gym owners testified before the Economic Recovery Task Force. —— Gyms told FOX28 in Columbus that the most frustrating part of the ordeal was not knowing when they’ll reopen.

May 19th: — DeWine announces that the Stay-At-Home Order will expire.

May 20th: — Lawsuits filed by the 1851 Center bear fruit, as a judge orders an injunction that effectively opened gyms almost a week before they were initially expected to open. — The judge on the case said that the state’s top health official went past the limits of her authority.

Nov 11th: — DeWine reissues a mask mandate, with provisions for penalties for violations. He also announced a “compliance unit” which will have the authority to close a store for 24 hours.

He explicitly warns that restaurants, gyms, and bars could face closure if the cases continue to increase. (We’ve discussed the problem with using case numbers/testing at length here on Lifting Lockdown.

Nov 13th: — Gyms begin exploring their legal options.

Nov 17th: — Ohio State Senator Jay Hottinger releases a letter signed by himself, and 38 other State legislators concerning the warnings about lockdown, and the “compliance” unit. The letter says in part:

“Furthermore it is unfair to single out the three specific sectors of restaurants, bars, and gyms for closure. These entities have spent an incredible amount of time and dollars to provide a safe environment for their employees to work and their customers to find relief from the pandemic. This targeting is particularly troubling when the government’s own data demonstrates that the majority of the virus spread is not coming from these types of businesses. Ohio State Wexner Chief Clinical Officer Dr. Andrew Thomas has noted that a second stay-at-home order that would close businesses and manufacturing is not necessary at this moment. Stopping the outbreak comes down to personal behavior and personal decisions. Other officials in your administration, including Dr. Thomas, say private gatherings such as birthday parties, weddings, and game watching events are what is driving the spread of the virus.”

At a 2PM press conference, focusing almost exclusively on case numbers. DeWin issues a curfew, started at 10PM on Thursday, November 19th. The curfew will go to 5AM.

He says “we are not talking about closing any businesses as we did then.” It is spun as being not a lockdown but a “slow down.”

3.) Closing thoughts. The only real difference between then and now, from a political perspective, is that the response from gyms was only slow compared to the lighting-fast response we’ve seen in the last week. In addition, as has been discussed countless times here on Lifting Lockdown, gyms are not anywhere close to the outbreak centers we were told they were. The Atilis Gym Bellmawr case in NJ teaches us this, as its owners have made a point of counting how many people go through their doors with no COVID outbreak traced back to Atilis.

As an aside, NJ has announced additional lockdown plans, of which Atilis has no interest in taking part.

But, at this point, even the most lockdown-eager politicians are now facing something of a headwind. The data does not support lockdown as a mitigation effort, the WHO has condemned the idea of lockdown as a mitigation effort, and the damage of lockdown is only just starting to become known.

As for Ohio, it must be said that the reaction from gyms was incredible. Standing on the efforts of the previous lawsuits, gyms were able to mount a defense extremely quickly. Though it was never explicitly mentioned, the two-pronged approach of the previous effort was hovering in the background of the lockdown threats.

When Lifting Lockdown returns, we turn our attention to Pennsylvania, as lockdown there becomes more, to use the state government’s terminology, “targeted.”

But for now, let us appreciate the efforts of Ohioans, and their combined-arms use of legal precedent, medical data, and economic data, to prevent the lockdown.

Lifting lockdown: Episode 14

Previously on Lifting Lockdown:

  • New home for the blog, and plans for the future.
  • Numerous studies on the impact of lockdown versus their supposed value.
  • We checked in on the no-doubt stunning concept of gyms not being the outbreak centers they were promised to be, and also discussed yet more issues with obesity and COVID-19.
  • We recapped active lawsuits.

On this episode, we continue to grow the case against continuing lockdowns, we look through the work of Stanford’s John Ioannidis from March to the present, and we check in with the ongoing trainwreck in Pennsylvania.

1.) Health Impact. —- There’s a story out of Dallas about Children’s hospitals seeing a rise in suicide patients. Back in August it was “a child or teen a day” for Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth. This is tied, in part, with kids struggling with being unable to return to any kind of normalcy. — This has dovetailed with other evidence going over the mental costs of the COVID pandemic and, frankly, the damage of the response to the pandemic. — As Dr. Ken Duckworth of the National Alliance for Mental Illness told ABC News, “There is a mental health wave to this pandemic. We as a species don’t do well with uncertainty.

1A.) The trouble with case reports. —- A growing body of research suggests that many “positive tests” of COVID may just be tests picking up on “residual traces” of the virus. In other words, viral load that aren’t contagious, and are on their way out regardless.

Put more bluntly, “confirmed cases” may be so insignificant as to be not worth reporting. But it DOES lead to some scary graphics to hide that. — One of Toronto’s top public health experts suggested back on October 3rd that the focus on daily case counts isn’t helpful. In an interview, Vivek Goel said that “what we seem to have developed, by and large, is a view that we need to focus on eliminating COVID-19. And we have got people to the point that they’re so scared of COVID-19 that they’re not thinking about all the other consequences.” — The World Health Organization has essentially reversed itself, now holding that blanket lockdowns aren’t a good idea anymore, and that their cost is far outweighing their supposed benefits. Dr. David Nabarro observed that “lockdowns just have one consequence that you must never ever belittle, and that is making poor people an awful lot poorer. — Following this logic, we have the Great Barrington Declaration. Signed by about 15,000 “medical and public health scientists” according to the Washington Times, the Declaration lays out opposition to lockdowns on the basis of their risk to the general public, and the damage done to other parts of public health (cancer screenings, for example.

1B.) John Ionnadis. One of the main scientists who have opposed lockdown since March is Stanford epidemiologist Dr. John Ioannidis. Tonight, we celebrate his work, and retrace this comments, working our way from March to the present. — In March, Dr. Ioannidis said that the rush to lockdown was based on bad data. Dr. Ioannidis projected about a fatality rate of .05% to 1%, adding that “a population-wide case fatality rate of 0.05% is lower than seasonal influenza. If that is the true rate, locking down the world with potentially tremendous social and financial consequences may be totally irrational. It’s like an elephant being attacked by a house cat. Frustrated and trying to avoid the cat, the elephant accidentally jumps off a cliff and dies.” — Stanford would later release research over a month later showing a remarkably low death rate, and that other factors (namely poverty) could contribute to worse outcomes for COVID-19 patients.

There’s also the issue of obesity that we covered in practically every episode of Lifting Lockdown. — In June, he called for an end to lockdowns across the globe. — His work was backed by biologist Beda Stadler, formerly the director of the Institute for Immunology at Switzerland’s University of Bern. — Put more bluntly, Dr. Ionnadis’ position in March was validated. — A few weeks ago, his study on COVID-19’s fatality rate was released by WHO.

2.) Education. — Governor Ron DeSantis (R-FL), has become very much anti-lockdown as of late. From saying that lockdowns will never happen again under his administration, to more recent comments where he states that he believes closing schools was a monumental mistake. — Meanwhile, a study out of Zurich, Switzerland has found no link between schools opening in the area and a surge in COVID-19.

3.) Gyms. — A gym in Nebraska made headlines this month. Big Kent’s Strength and Fitness has been training student athletes at low or no cost during the pandemic. Owner Kent Fleming told KETV that “It was very important to me as one of the only Black owned gyms to use my platform to really effect in the community.”

3a.) Gyms in California.—gyms-from-lincoln-heights-to-silver-lake/article_5ec1debe-050f-11eb-9d2f-43bd40cccba7.html — A lot of gyms in California are starting to believe they’ll never reopen. The state’s “reopening” guidelines allow for 50% capacity if the county the gym resides in has less than 1 case per day. (Recall what we just discussed about the tests. This is virtually impossible.) — Gyms across the state are taking their case to court, calling for an end to the lockdown in California. It is what the California Fitness Alliance called “restoring access to fitness.” In response to Governor Newsom’s reopening plan, CFA advisory board member Francesca Schuler said in a press release that “he has apparently decided only those who can afford a Peloton should have access to a healthy lifestyle.

4.) Politics. —- Michigan Supreme Court rules Gov “has no authority to continue state of emergency.”

5.) PA. —- PA Lawmaker caught on hot mic saying masks are “political theater.” It was fun watching the backpedaling there.

6.) Closing thoughts. Remember when bringing up the effects of hard lockdown, or bringing up that it’s VERY likely unnecessary for such a long-term blanket closure, or that the damage would would outweigh the benefits would get you labeled as “not caring about people” among other things? When suggesting that lockdowns might kill more than the virus was “being selfish.” — When social distance shamers roamed the Internet looking for people to mob?

Turns out that absolutely none of that has aged particularly well. — As we discussed in episode 13, what we’ve been left with is accepting government control of business at a granular level, businesses having to sue for their own survival, a rise in suicide; domestic violence; and generally the sort of long-term damage that will outlast the lockdown.

It isn’t exactly the kind of minor damage that can be waved off.

Even as Lifting Lockdown slowly becomes an occasional feature, and not the main segment of Midnight Iron, that will continue to be the theme for the series. This series will aim to be a thorough examination of everything that happened OUTSIDE of COVID, and that has now become acceptable to talk about only because it’s now impossible to run from.

Of course, we never ran from it in the first place. As a result, this series also serves as a well-sourced running record for everything outside of COVID, that for whatever reason was allowed to fester and grow.

That is one thing I will always be proud of, regardless of where Midnight Iron goes. From the beginning, we saw coming what everyone else was surprised by. Every last one of the sources that supported the series’ main premise has now been thoroughly vindicated. From the benefits of physical activity, to the impact of lockdown on a physical, mental, emotional, and economic level; everything laid out in this series over the last few months has been validated.

The only problem is now, everyone has to inspect the damage.

As even the WHO now notes, we can prevent further damage by ignoring the perpetually-wrong promises of doom, looking at the hard data, and lifting the lockdowns.

Lifting Lockdown: Episode 13

Previously on Lifting Lockdown:
– We discussed the impact of lockdown outside of the gym, although we ended up discussing how gyms could help prevent a pandemic, and not spread it.
– We spent a significant amount of time discussing intimate terrorism, AKA domestic violence.
– We briefly ran though all of the lawsuits we’ve seen in regards to the pandemic.

Tonight, we discuss the impact of lockdown outside the gym, we discuss the relative safety OF gyms, and we get an accidental case study in the arbitrary nature of lockdowns from California. In addition, we add to Lifting Lockdown 12’s stack of evidence on obesity making COVID-19 worse, and check in on way too many lawsuits. Because people can only take this for so long.

By the way, PwrBld, the gym that everyone said would be the location of the next outbreak when it opened months ago, just celebrated its one-year anniversary. And they still haven’t been able to link anything back to that gym, or Atilis for that matter.

Let’s get started.

1.) Midnight Iron. Before we go anywhere, it’s time to recognize the new home. Midnight Iron will be the main archive for Lifting Lockdown going forward, and will also see regular updates relating to powerlifting OUTSIDE of the COVID-19 restrictions as competition resumes and, frankly, as issues such as the transgender debate evolve over the next few years. My goal is to ultimately produce a regular podcast of news from around the powerlifting world, focusing on USAPL and USPA events. We will discuss Midnight Iron in detail in a later update. For now, let us remain focused on COVIDS.

2.) COVID Stats —- For our lead story, which is a study on the impact of COVID-19 and whether the lockdown actually did anything productive that was worth their cost, I borrow from my friend Mike Newbern, who wrote that “as the data matures (or emerges depending on your training), we are learning our response came at a very high cost. Even if we stopped now, we’ll be paying the price for years to come.” — There is a growing body of evidence showing that the stay-at-home orders were at best worthless, and at worst counterproductive. —- The Wall Street Journal has called the lockdowns “overly blunt and costly.” — There is also an absolutely brilliant own goal out of Nashville, with emails showing that the city government wildly overstated COVID stats coming from restaurants.

3.) Gyms —- A national study involving check-ins at thousands of gyms has shown what we all suspected and what Norway already proved; gyms present no more of a risk than any other business. — This is where the data from O2 comes from. — Meanwhile, in Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis rejected calls to close gyms back in July due to an increase of cases in the state. DeSantis said that the people who go to gyms tend to be fairly low-risk, and that “I think what they are doing is making them even less at risk of the coronavirus. So, I don’t think it would make sense to close them.”

For those looking for information that ISN’T coming from the industry itself, the simple fact is that there isn’t any. — CBS21 in Harrisburg filed a Right-to-Know request demanding information backing the state’s decision to restrict restaurants to 25% capacity, and was told that the information was “protected.”

The only info we have from outside of the industry is DeSantis’ musings; the successful opening of PwrBld, Atilis, as well as gyms in Georgia, Texas, and of course Florida.

We also have the odd note that, to be blunt, if there WERE an outbreak at PwrBld or Atilis, it would have been on 6ABC in Philly by now. In this case, absence of evidence IS evidence of absence.

But even if that’s not enough…..

3.1) Atilis — NJ gyms are opening under a carbon copy of the rules Atilis opened under. A sort of admission-by-plagiarism. — Commentator Matt Christiansen has an excellent review of the Atilis case here. —- NJ’s government is essentially demanding that Atilis mandate masks in their gym in exchange for not being fined….. —- After simultaneously admitting that there is no evidence linking gyms to COVID outbreaks and, apparently there never has been. Which is all the more ironic given that Atilis has been demanding for weeks to see the evidence linking COVID outbreaks to gyms.

3.2) California. — Also found this out of California. The gyms that are open in CA (not many of them), have also shown to have no real impact on the spread of COVID-19 —- News also broke out of California that, while they forced gyms to close in the city, San Francisco Government buildings keep their gyms open for their own use. —- About a week after that story broke, the city announced that gyms, hair salons, and nail salons would be permitted to open. Note that nothing changed about the SCIENCE of the virus, merely the POLITICS of the virus. —- Matt Christiansen has an excellent recap of the California case, as well. — Gym owners in California are now suing the state. Under the State’s plan, a gym’s in a county can operate at 50% capacity if there is less than a new case per day. That’s almost impossible, but as we’ve seen California government doesn’t much care.

Because, again, gyms in SF government buildings operated OUTSIDE of those restrictions.

4.) Obesity studies. We now increase the stack of evidence from Lifting Lockdown 12 with more studies on obesity and COVID-19. — Namely, studies showing that obesity could impact effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccine.

5.) Lifting Lockdown Lawsuit Listings. —- A federal judge found the open-ended restrictions placed on PA citizens to be a violation of the 1st and 14th Amendments; namely the right to assembly and due process. The judge further noted that the Governor sees these restrictions as a “new normal” and has no plan to lift anything. —- Staying in PA, a restaurant in Brentwood is suing the health department over COVID-19 restrictions in the state. — Meanwhile in Ohio, we have another lawsuit looking to remove the restrictions on business entirely. You may recall Ohio gym owners two-pronged approach to getting their businesses open back in Episode 5. This focuses on the closures as a whole. — We have a lawsuit over the government’s emergency powers in Connecticut.

6.) Closing thoughts. The Atilis case has become a parody of itself. Not in terms of the gym, but in terms of what is being done TO the gym. First the state sued Atilis, only to release guidelines on reopening that are a carbon copy of what Atilis has been operating under. Weeks later, Gov. Murphy acknowledges that outbreaks were not traced to gyms OR indoor dining, for that matter. While all of this is going on, the government is apparently trying to get Atilis to agree to mandate masks as a condition of not being fined out of existence.

Meanwhile, California )which already was a parody of itself) managed to score an own goal by proclaiming gyms needed to be closed, only for it to be revealed that government gyms in San Francisco remained open. This case did not come out of the government being honest, but of a gym owner having it rubbed in her face.

Finally, we have the case of PwrBld Gym in Conshohocken. As stated earlier, the gym celebrated its one year a few weeks ago. The promises of doom made against Whitney (and the sizable amount of slander/libel he had to deal with) failed to materialize or be even close to accurate. As Gov. DeSantis noted in Florida, the clientele of most gyms tend to be fairly low-risk to begin with, and physical activity has been proven to boost the circulatory, respiratory, and immune systems.

All three cases on their own would demonstrate the arbitrary nature of the restrictions. Combined, they make clear not only the arbitrary nature; but also how government refuses to follow its own rules, in many respects.

But with restrictions now being actively fought in the courts, some governors actively rejecting the idea of a second lockdown, and the complete lack of supporting data; the case for lockdown continues to fall apart. Upwards of six months in, the damage is becoming too great for all but those most dedicated to the idea to ignore.

In short, it is becoming a lot harder for governments to avoid lifting the lockdown.

Lifting Lockdown: Episode 12

Originally posted 23JUL2020

Previously on Lifting Lockdown:
– Suits. Lots of lawsuits. Joined by Arizona. Because that’s just where we are today.
– We saw Philadelphia go into Independence Day under lockdown
– USAPL canned most of its Nationals schedule, with Collegiates remaining.

After the huge chasm of time separating Episodes 10 and 11, I want to do two things tonight. First, I want to update previous stories to the extent that I can. Second, I want to take a closer look at the impact of lockdown long-term. Even putting aside gyms (although we will certainly touch on them), what has been the impact of lockdown outside of them?

This episode of Lifting Lockdown is something of a checkpoint.

Tonight, we look at all of the stuff surrounding COVID. The physical and mental health impacts, the long-term economic impacts (and the physical/mental impact THAT brings).

We will go in-depth on domestic violence through the pandemic (including a hand signal for video calls, and other resources. We’re discussing it both because it’s important and because it’s part of the pandemic I was blind to for way too damn long and I feel the need to rectify that mistake.)

We will close this evening with a quick discussion on lawsuits.

That all being said, a peek behind the curtain at the last few weeks. Getting together this episode has been a mental trainwreck. Once one examines the damage, and once one looks at the data relating to COVID, it is difficult to justify further lockdown. The first few weeks, back when it was about “flatten the curve” were fair enough. The last few MONTHS? Not so much. COVID doesn’t happen in a vacuum, it never did. And yet, we’re essentially asked to pretend that it does, and whatever damage caused by it is merely “frustrating.”

It leads to a mental image where there’s a group of people celebrating “defeating” this virus (which isn’t happening, by the way) in the foreground, while a bunch of people who have lost basically everything are completely forgotten about in the background, largely abandoned because nobody wants to talk about the damage lockdowns have caused. I call this image “We’re All In This Together?”

Not much room for positivity in this one; this is a damage inspection, not an effort to tarp over the damage.

It’s not pretty, but it needs to be covered.

So, let’s talk about the impacts of lockdown.

1.) Physical. —- This article from Time magazine regarding studies showing COVID-19 lockdowns leading to people being more sedentary than they were to begin with will serve as this section’s grounding element. This article was featured back in Episode 3 and has aged like fine wine, to be completely frank. —- [H/T Mike Newbern] —- This is from Alywn Crosgrove of Results Fitness. Cosgrove points out multiple examples of how increased physical activity REDUCES risk of COVID-19. —- He cites this study about how physical exercise is one of the main ways to prevent getting sick, largely because of the physical and mental health benefits of physical activity. —- In Episode 10, we would come across this study showing that sedentary lifestyle leading to an increase in chronic diseases. —- We also have this study showing that physical activity dropped during COVID-19, “raising concerns for health” —- [H/T Donna Marts] —- More recently, we have seen that obesity has been tied to the severity of COVID symptoms. This is in addition to everything else obesity is tied to, namely cardiovascular disease (which kills significantly more Americans than any other disease).

(Sidebar: In his multiple Executive Orders, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp has defined “medically fragile” to include those with “severe or Class 3 obesity.”) —- Of course, the irony came back on Episode 5, when Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis mused “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” during a press conference on 15MAY announcing Florida’s continued reopening. —- This was exactly the case made back in Episode 3 by Friendship Fitness in Ohio, whose governor treated gyms worse than bars. Ohio gyms had a two-pronged approach, combining testifying before government committees with suing the government. (Lifting Lockdowns 1-4) —- Also from Episode 3, this look at the opioid epidemic, and the impact COVID has had on that. —- More recently, we have seen evidence of an increase in drug overdoses in general. — To close out the physical section, we can’t do much better than this. New research has all but validated people like Joe Sullivan, Collin Whitney, and Ian Smith. —- Namely this study from Norway showing that gyms that follow basic hygiene guidelines have no higher risk of transmission than anywhere else. This is in addition to the physical health benefits described above.

Point blank:
Lack of physical activity INCREASES risk of getting sick.
INCREASED physical activity DECREASES risk of getting sick.

2.) Mental —- Back in episode 8, we discussed a rise of suicides in the San Fran Bay Area. Namely how doctors in the area had seen more suicide deaths than COVID-19 deaths. — More than 600 doctors signed a letter to President Trump about the “exponentially growing health consequences” of lockdown. The letter goes on to note that “poverty and financial uncertainty” is closely linked to poor health. We’ll get to poverty and financial uncertainty in a moment. —- “Mental health in the UK’s COVID-19 lockdown is a brewing crisis that could cause more damage than the virus itself.” —- Back in May, Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNBC that long-term lockdowns could end up causing “irreparable damage” if they went on too long. — Finally, while children have largely been spared the physical impacts of COVID itself, it hasn’t been easy on their mental state. This article in Time does a remarkable job connecting the mental health of children to the state of the economy, and frankly, the stress the pandemic is causing on those children.

3.) Economic —- This is from Episode 8. It is simply titled “Lockdowns haven’t been worth the havoc.” —- WSJ had a great piece out entited: “The Data Are In: It’s time for a major reopening.” I prefer this one over the Bloomberg piece, but both are excellent. Both look at the economic impact of lockdown, and ask whether or not lockdowns actually achieved their goals. —- Dr. John Ionnadis predicted that lockdowns would have considerable damage without much benefit. He has been validated several times over. — He’s also far from alone. —- It’s cold comfort for small business owners, many of whom have decided that the current environment isn’t survivable, and have given up.

4.) Domestic Violence. Domestic abuse does not fit neatly into any of the above categories. In fact, domestic abuse often involves all three: physical, mental, and economic (read: financial) abuse. — This article from Psychology Today will serve as our grounding point. Specifically the following excerpt:
“For some, the correlation between sheltering-in-place and increased IPV seems to have elicited surprise. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, for example, expressed alarm upon learning of the increased reports of domestic violence within his state. But for anyone experienced with IPV, the increase in its occurrence arrived with the predictability of the tides. IPV surges in times of natural disasters and crises. We previously witnessed this ugly social phenomenon during Hurricane Harvey in 2017, and we will see it again during whatever form of Armageddon brings the nation to its knees on the next go-around.” —- We move on to this NYT report, which looks at global efforts to combat domestic violence, which as discussed above, many apparently didn’t see coming.

The article also introduces a term I am not familiar with to define domestic violence but think is perfect: “intimate terrorism.” —- Lockdown measures are also being blamed for a surge in violence against children. —- A relatively new study shows that domestic violence has doubled in the wake of the pandemic.

Before we get out of here, a few resources from domestic violence groups here in the US, and one from Canada that I hope catches on even after the pandemic. —- This is from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. —- This is from the PA Coalition Against Domestic Violence. — Finally, there is this neat idea from the Canadian Women’s Foundation. The Foundation came up with a hand signal that someone in an abusive situation can use when communicating with someone else over video. The idea, in theory, is that the victim can use this hand signal in such a way that the victim can signal for help WITHOUT leaving a digital trace (such as a text message, or straight up vocalizing it).

It is worth noting the rather obvious obstacles in this situation, namely the prevalence of screen recorders (i.e. the one quite literally built into iOS), and (as the Foundation readily admits) the fact that abusers will inevitably learn the signal as well. But it’s a resource, and anybody who has been in that situation before knows that you will take whatever help you can get.

Because, regardless of what the internet mob might say, you can’t “just leave” an abusive relationship.

5.) Lifting Lockdown Lawsuit Listings. Finally, a brief summary of all lockdown-related lawsuits we’re currently aware of. —- 03JUL2020: Illinois Lockdown tossed —- 14MAY2020 Wisconsin Stay-at-Home Order Tossed —- 20MAY2020 Ohio gym closures tossed —- STL County lawsuit dropped —- Arizona lawsuit still happening. It’s worth pointing out the following bit from Reason:

“The unwillingness of large segments of the fitness industry to close down again illustrates just how tired Americans are of seemingly endless lockdowns that have kept them inside and endangered their businesses. Many of these gym owners complained to the media that they’re adopting the same cleaning and social distancing protocols as businesses that are allowed to remain open.

It’s a sign that state officials are going to be increasingly hardpressed to force people back into their homes, regardless of the public health merits.”

We’re going to skip Atilis Gym, for the most part. Not because I’ve stopped caring. (Quite the contrary; much like PwrBld, I need to get to Atilis at some point. Rather, because the movement of the last week or so warrants its own recap. In the past week, Gov. Murphy tried again to force Atilis to close by having the locks changed. Atilis removed the doors, and eventually won against a contempt of court charge. —- We’ll handle all of that later, but there is this interview of Atilis Gym’s Ian Smith from 21JUL2020 on Tucker Carlson I’d like to share with you.

6.) Closing thoughts. In 2018, Poland’s 11-bit Studios released the video game Frostpunk. The game took place in a single city, cut off from all civilization, in an extremely cold climate. The themes of morality and being forced to decide between two bad options permeated every second of the gameplay. The player was tasked with building a city from scratch in an environment that actively hated everyone

Should the player manage to survive to the end of the game, the player is presented with a stop-motion recap of the city’s evolution, with key decisions flashing on screen. Before asking a very simple question: “The city has survived, but was it worth it?”

The goal of Lifting Lockdown tonight was to look at the damage around lockdown. To account for basically everything that has happened while we were shaming people for being outside, attacking business owners, and trying to spin losing everything as merely “I know its frustrating.”

Losing everything is not merely “frustrating,” it’s not an “inconvenience.” It’s devastating. And, for a lot of people, it has gone ignored.

What started as “just two weeks,” in many places has become several months. “Flatten the curve” is a term nobody even remembers using, and the data coming out on COVID suggests a plummeting fatality rate.

As Dr. Ionnadis has noted for months, the lockdowns have not been worth it. In the process, we’ve destroyed businesses that didn’t need to be destroyed. We’ve forced people with numerous other diseases to delay treatment. We’ve told people to go onto unemployment systems that we knew didn’t work. We’ve forced people who do not take well to isolation to isolate regardless.

The data we’re seeing shows that the virus is not nearly as fatal as first claimed. The data we’re seeing shows that we’ve made a conscious decision to exacerbate other problems, while simultaneously paying almost no attention TO those problems.

The data shows that we’re about to get out of a physical health crisis, only to roll straight into a mental health one. We aren’t ready to have a discussion on either one.

The consequences of the last few months will last long after we lift the lockdown.

Lifting Lockdown: Episode 11

Originally posted 02JUL2020

Last week, I said that this week would be the last episode of Lifting Lockdown.
Yeah, that’s not happening, and it was a dumb thing to say. We aren’t even close to done.

Previously on Lifting Lockdown:
– Ian Andrew’s case against NJ’s Governor moved VERY slowly.
– Green Phase metrics changed with the day of the week.

1.) PA —- Alpha Fitness is still open. —- PwrBld is still open, and has even opened up to drop-ins (scheduled in advance). —- 10X Fitness in Taylor, PA is opening again. —- But, of course, with a rise in cases (more on that later), Philly has decided to close gyms and halt indoor dining.

We’ll deal with the arbitrary nature of closures later on. (And it IS arbitrary.)

2.) Atilis —- Atilis is closed. They are currently suing the Governor. It’s a long process that is being needlessly dragged out by the state.

For the record: I want to keep following the case, since it IS going to define lockdown going forward…..but the State dragging its feet on this case and making it really painful to try and monitor. PACER’s great….when PACER has new stuff. —- Atilis co-owner Ian Andrew wrote this on the current state of affairs in New Jersey. Even had someone say that Atilis was responsible for gyms in NJ being closed. If you’ve followed Lifting Lockdown, you know this isn’t remotely the case. It’s a problem of abuse of power, not of Atilis opening. (A similar abuse of power is taking place in PA, which is leading to a torrent of lawsuits there, as well.) —- In a more recent update, Ian notes that the courts have done just about everything they could to wash their hands of the case. Atilis has been open in a manner of speaking, as the staff and a couple die-hard lifters have helped them move the equipment outside during the day, and back in at night.

I need to get out there at some point, and I look forward to it.

2.) USAPL. — USA Powerlifting has largely wiped out the Nationals schedule for 2020. The sole remaining event is Collegiate Nationals in Oaks, PA, about 30 minutes from the Philly airport.

Of course, not much intel on 2021 events.

3.) Arizona. Please welcome our newest Lifting Lawsuit, Arizona! —- This comes to us by way of Miryam Gutier Elm. The governor of Arizona issued an executive order closing gyms. Mountainside Fitness, a chain in the state, has decided it is going to keep its gyms open in defiance of the order (from here on referenced as the “PwrBld/Atilis” method). —- It’s worth noting that, in Michigan, a judge ruled that singling out gyms as “dangerous” as reason to keep them closed during a pandemic is irrational and, thus, unconstitutional.

Gyms are “dangerous” because of the risk of virus transmission. As opposed to significantly larger buildings which are open, have significantly higher risk, but aren’t “dangerous” for some logic-defying reason. Miryam has observed that her gym, WADE Strength Systems, is closed but a dance studio across from her is open.

4.) Blowback. We’ve done it. We’ve managed to go into Independence Day week both cheering for more restrictions AND singling out businesses for at-best arbitrary reasons. On paper, it looks almost cartoonishly bad.

However, we are continuing to see resistance to these efforts; from the ongoing lawsuit from Atilis, to the new one from Mountainside. We must also remember the two-fisted approach Ohio gyms took to force the issue in their state (reference Lifting Lockdown 4).

Stated differently, as evidence emerges over the damage of lockdowns regarding physical and mental health (Lifting Lockdown 3, 5, 8, and 10), the constantly shifting “guidance” from “experts” (whose guidance on social distancing faded during protests), and the arbitrary nature of closures becomes clearer, the argument for lockdown gets worse. (Reference the closing thoughts of Episode 6. The “rationale” for closing gyms vanishes when virtually any other establishment is brought up) —- UPMC, a major hospital system in PA, has been calling for a “changing mindset” on COVID away from the obsession over case numbers and more on the decreasing severity of the virus. —- In addition, herd immunity to the virus may be much closer than we know.

I said last week that this would be the final episode of Lifting Lockdown. In hindsight, that was quite naive and optimistic; it’s something I should never have said. I will continue to follow gyms and the lockdowns thereof.

But I look forward to ending this series eventually; but not until the lawsuits are won, and the lockdowns are lifted.

More as it develops, and thank you to Mike Newbern, Collin Whitney of PwrBld, Ian Andrew of Atilis, Donna Marts, Steven William Davenport, Ram Hernandez of Third Coast Strength Solutions, and Miyram Gutier Elm of WADE Strength Systems for their help on the entire Lifting Lockdown project. Your information and feedback on this project has been incredible.

Happy Independence Day, people.

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.