Category Archives: Lifting 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.