By: Hans Themistode
Gym owners are quietly being forgotten.
It’s been months since governor Cuomo ordered the shutdown of numerous businesses in the state of New York. The reasoning was sound as COVID-19 cases continued to spike. Sports were postponed, school’s shutdown, church congregations ceased from taking place and last but certainly not least, fitness centers were given no choice but to board up their doors.
COVID-19 tore through New York City as it became the epicenter for the virus and forced the city that never sleeps into Hypersomnia.
While New Yorkers obeyed the new guidelines that enforced social distancing and face coverings, things began to get better. Cases numbers shrank and the city began to open up.
Governor Cuomo and other officials laid out a plan for New York’s reopening. At the moment, phase three of four is currently underway. But while businesses are unlocking their doors and rushing customers inside, gym owners are watching as the rust continues to build on their unused equipment.
Not only are fitness owners forced to wait, but they have not been given any indication as to how long. It’s a frustration process but gym owner Bruce Silverglade of Gleason’s gym wants to make his voice heard.
“I have no idea where I fit in,” said Silverglade on BoxingInsider radio. “I’ve had people tell me that we are going to open in phase three. But I’ve had others tell me no, you’re in phase four. Now, we aren’t in phase four at all. There is absolutely no direction.”
What makes matters worse for Silverglade and others like him is the distinction that he is currently placed under. Gleason’s gym is more than a place to lose a few pounds, it’s a historical landmark where 131 world champion boxers have worked out of.
The numbers might be impressive in the world of boxing, but the state of New York has no regard for it. Safety is the name of the game and gym’s have been deemed a hotbed for the virus. With that being said however, Silverglade believes he can safely open while implementing new safety protocols.
“I have masks and gloves that are going to be mandatory, unless you are sparring. Gallons of hand sanitizer and wipes will be available. I will also have my employees wiping things down and sanitizing. We will have a private cleaning company come in and completely sanitize the place before we open. I can provide a reopening plan that will fully satisfy the Department of Health.”
While Silverglade is willing to work with state officials, Long Island gym owner Charlie Cassara of SC Fitness is taking matters into his own hands.
Along with several other struggling gym owners, Cassara plans to file a class-action suit against New York and its reopening plans.
The suit would entail the same issues that Silverglade detailed. Simply put, there is no structure nor guidelines to the reopening of fitness centers. Cassara has ensured that he is willing to adhere to new safety protocols but he believes that he isn’t being given a fair shake.
“We deserve the opportunity to open up under the CDC guidelines set forth,” said Cassara in a recent interview on Fox and Friends. “We are ready to do that. We’re not even given any answers. We have no layout. We just have: ‘You are not in Phase 4. We’ll talk to you guys when we’re good and ready.
Representing Cassara on his behalf is James Mermigis of Mermigis Law Group.
The negligence shown by Cuomo and the state to gym owners such as Silverglade and Cassara is erroneous when juxtaposed to other businesses. At least, according to Mermigis.
“We are just asking for equal treatment here,” explained Mermigis. “The right to be treated equally is just as important as any other right that’s protected by the Constitution. Why are malls, gyms, and movie theaters now being treated differently than tattoo parlors, than Walmart, than Target, then tanning salons?” Mermigis asked. “All these other businesses could open, but we can’t?”
The questions presented by Mermigis are endless, but discussing them are extraneous now. At the moment, there are only two answers that will satisfy his clients.
“We are going to give the governor an option. Either open up the gyms, or pay us.”