Pro Sports in California, Are Gyms Essential Business?

Good news for the CrossFit Games as the state of California looks to potentially begin lifting restrictions on pro sporting events.

Good morning and welcome to the WODDITY podcast for news about CrossFit. We are a daily podcast, Monday through Friday, doing CrossFit news in five minutes or less.

Today we’re celebrating the WODDITY podcast’s 10,000th listener. Honestly, I don’t know how my grandma found the time to listen 10,000 times, but to each their own. Seriously, though, I appreciate every single one of you. None of this would exist – no podcast, no WODDITY, no Elite Sports Insider without you as the community being as strong, as resilient, and as loyal as you are. So thank you for sharing these moments with me.

My name is Ben Garves and today is Wednesday, the 20th of May, 2020. Don’t forget, links to all of these stories are in the show notes of your friendly neighborhood podcasting app, as well as on the new

California Likely to Green-Light Pro Sports Soon

Governor Gavin Newsom of California expects the start date for the return of pro sports to be as early as June 1st. He stated in his live stream on May 18th that pro sports are being looked at for the first week of June, without spectators. He also added there will likely be modifications and “very prescriptive conditions”. Also noted in his statement was that it is all dependent on if trend lines hold steady for the next couple of weeks.

Justin LoFranco at Morning Chalk Up opined, “This is the first clear sign by the state of allowing sporting events to take place in a timeframe that would fit the Games’ scheduled dates of July 29 – August 2. Up until this point, the Games’ status has remained largely unknown.”

Gyms: Essential Businesses?

Meanwhile, the debate on whether gyms are or are not an essential service continues. A number of  states have lifted limitations on gyms, allowing them to open with specific safe practices. Those states include Wyoming, Georgia, and Arizona, while the vast majority of states, including California, New York, and New Jersey have kept their gyms closed. Gyms in a number of states, like Florida, have been disobeying closures and opening in defiance of local orders. 

Todd Nief, the owner of South Loop Strength and Conditioning, wrote an op-ed for Morning Chalk Up this week, outlining that, although states have started lifting bans, he does not feel his CrossFit gym is an ‘essential business.’ 

As with any good episode of the WODDITY Podcast, let me read you some poignant pieces from Nief’s article. Of the dire situation for gyms, he writes:

“There are also severe economic implications for the fitness industry, with large, commercial chains filing for bankruptcy and some affiliates closing permanently. In fact, we just had our first permanent closure in Chicago.

My own business is reeling with a 41% revenue drop in April. Based upon current guidelines in Chicago, I will be surprised if we are able to resume activity in the gym before the middle of June. Our staff have all taken a significant pay cut, we only paid part of our April rent, and I haven’t taken a paycheck since March.”

But business isn’t the only thing impacted by the decision to open. Neif continues:

“Each individual athlete going to and from the gym is taking a small risk of infection and, even if they were infected, the danger to someone CrossFitting regularly is quite low. Still, by increasing exposure to other people, each athlete is increasing the risk that they become the vector that transmits the disease from one social network to another.

Just as a factory can dump industrial waste into a river that sickens the population downstream, healthy individuals do not have to bear the costs of spreading the disease.

While we can levy taxes on companies that pollute, there’s no simple way to make each individual feel the true cost of risky behavior during a pandemic. This is why most states issued “shelter in place” orders.

Within the CrossFit community, contrarians, conspiracy theorists, and radical individualists are overrepresented. Some of these folks doubt the seriousness of COVID-19. Some of these folks recognize the seriousness of COVID-19, but are skeptical of any state intervention. Some of them have very valid concerns about the ineptitude with which large bureaucratic entities have responded to a crisis. Some have concerns regarding the seemingly wild variation in predictive models used to guide policy — and the regular failures of those models to, you know, actually be accurate. And some of them think that a shadowy cabal of lizard people are running the world.”

It’s a fantastic piece, regardless of which side of the argument you’re on. I highly suggest you take five minutes today to read it. He closes with:

“As coaches, we all know the clients that go out too hot on every workout — then start shaving reps in the later rounds as they fatigue. It’s a lot easier to not do all the reps. But, by looking for the easy way out, we know the client is trading off their future success.

If we want to minimize the chances of a second round of shutdowns this fall, we need to do everything we can right now to slow the spread of COVID-19 and build up the public health infrastructure so that we are prepared for another wave of infections.

CrossFit gyms provide a very valuable service to our members. We’re the backbones of communities, and our members build health and resilience through training with us. We’re an important business. We’re a potentially life-changing business. But we are not an essential business.”

That’s it for news about CrossFit for Wednesday, May 20th. Thanks for listening. Please be sure to rate, review, subscribe, and share. For WODDITY, I’m Ben Garves. Behave yourselves out there.

By Ben Garves

Ben Garves is a digital product expert, author, entertainer, and activist. His portfolio of thought leadership in digital marketing and web experiences has included major clients like Microsoft, Google, Twitter, eBay, and Facebook. He’s also a freelance health and fitness journalist with over 400 stories written since 2018, a podcaster with 200 episodes to his name, and runs a YouTube channel with over 100 fitness and activism-oriented videos and live streams. Ben has founded the Fitness is for Everyone™ initiative to raise awareness about social injustice in both racial inequality and socioeconomic disparity in access to quality fitness and nutrition options around the globe.

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