CIANJ: 69 percent of NJ supports reopening gyms with safety protocols

Gabrielle Saulsbery//August 11, 2020

CIANJ: 69 percent of NJ supports reopening gyms with safety protocols

Gabrielle Saulsbery//August 11, 2020

The Commerce and Industry Association of New Jersey found that 57 percent of New Jerseyans want gyms and fitness centers to reopen.

Taking into account the specific safety precautions gyms and fitness centers will follow, reopening support jumps to 69 percent, the poll found.

“The most compelling argument to reopen gyms is when comparing them to other establishments that have already reopened,” said CIANJ in its Monday report.

More than 7 out of 10 are more likely to support reopening gyms after learning that New Jersey has already allowed casinos, amusement parks and museums to reopen, and that gyms have five times more square footage per person than establishments like cycling studios and hair salons, which have also been allowed to reopen.

Seven in 10 support reopening because of the role that exercise plays in mental health, particularly during stressful times, and the helpful role it plays in relation to some with underlying medical conditions.

About the same, 71 percent, reported they feel it’s important to reopen gyms when looking ahead to fall and winter seasons, while many residents find it harder to access regular exercise in the cold weather.

After learning facilities would sanitize equipment after each use and conduct full hydrostatic cleaning and sanitization of the gym space, 67 percent of respondents supported the reopening of gyms and fitness centers.

About 7  in 10, or 69 percent, support reopening gyms to provide urban communities safe access to healthy living—particularly for folks who can’t afford workout equipment or lack access to safe outdoor recreation.

In consideration of jobs, 69 percent support gyms reopening because many are facing permanent closure and job losses. The fitness industry employs 50,000 New Jerseyans, and stalling their reopening has kept many of them out of work.

Tony Russo, president, Commerce and Industry Association of New Jersey

“New Jersey cannot afford to fall further behind. Our comeback can only truly begin by getting the state working – and working out – again,” said CIANJ President Anthony Russo in a prepared statement. “Reopening gyms will help our collective mental, physical and financial health. It can be done safely, and we now know it has the support of a wide majority of New Jerseyans.”

Kevin Johnson, owner at Team85 Fitness & Wellness in Bordentown, noted in a hearing focused on health and fitness clubs with the Senate’s fiscal recovery strategists on Aug. 6, that continued closures affect more than 50,000 employees.

Johnson, a former National Football League player, also noted the financial burden that the closures have put upon owners such as himself.

While he’s invested over $50 million in the Team85 campus—and over the past five years, has paid millions of dollars in employment taxes and property taxes to the state of New Jersey, employing 6,000 New Jerseyans, he said during the hearing that without being allowed to open his facility in some capacity, it’ll be “financially impossible” to open his doors again.

In his latest comments on gyms on Aug. 5, Gov. Phil Murphy told Phil Andrews at NJNN, who brought up safety protocols gyms plan to take and that the establishments already have the contact information of everyone who comes in, that he “completely gets it” that fitness helps people both mentally and physically and that gyms want to be open.

“[I] get that. Remember, they are open and available for private appointments with individuals or with bubbles, which is typically a family but at least a group of people who have been living together. Secondly, it’s not a forever and always,” Murphy said. “I mean, I like going to the gym. I mean, we want to get there. Your point on contact information is a good one, an outstanding one, and that’s an asset. I can’t give you timing.”

The CIANJ survey was conducted of 500 New Jerseyans through voice technology and cell phone text solicitation between July 30 and Aug. 2.