Florida gym owners demand clarity, reopening timeline


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WFLA) – Gym owners across the State of Florida are becoming increasingly frustrated with a lack of clarity from the governor regarding how and when they might be able to reopen.

The state agency that regulates gyms hasn’t been able to provide answers and is calling on Gov. Ron DeSantis to make a decision soon.

Red Hills Crossfit in Tallahassee has been shuttered since mid-March.

“We would consider ourselves essential. Maybe more so than like a dry cleaner,” owner Travis Perkins said.

Perkins was surprised when Gov. DeSantis disregarded the recommendation from his own task force and left gyms out of Phase One.

“But we took it as black and white. It said gyms, fitness centers and we didn’t try to necessarily try to classify ourselves as anything else,” said Perkins.

But Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried told us the governor’s break from the task force recommendation has created confusion for other gyms.

Her agency has received over 100 consumer complaints about gyms improperly opening throughout the state.

“Complaints from those that are complying with, you know, the words that are on the executive order and have shut down, but yet all their competition is opening back up. So there’s frustration out there,” said Fried.

In a letter seeking clarity from the governor, Fried also mentioned reports of gym owners who were told by the governor’s own administration that they could, in fact, open under certain circumstances.

“(The Department of Business and Professional Regulation) is giving them one answer, our inspectors are going out there giving them a separate answer,” said Fried.

The frustration boiled over in Clearwater on Monday when dozens of gym owners and employees held a protest outside the county courthouse.

“We have no communication from anybody with regards to when we’re able to open or why we’re not able to open,” said Travis LaBazzo, owner of Amped Fitness.

LaBazzo organized the protest. He said he and other owners want answers now.

“If for nothing else, we at least deserve a date,” said LaBrazzo.

Both gym owners we spoke with said they were able to qualify for PPP loans, which has helped them stay afloat and keep paying employees. They noted that money will only last for so long.

Like Commissioner Fried, we also reached out to the governor asking for clarity, but have not received a response.


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