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Niles gym owner emotional after reopening announcement

Published: Sep. 3, 2020 at 11:13 PM EDT
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NILES, Mich. (WNDU) - Gyms in Michigan were closed for nearly five and a half months.

I have talked to several Niles business owners throughout this pandemic, and many tell me they are barely keeping their heads above water.

Today’s news was emotional for some.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced Thursday that gyms and indoor pools can re-open on Sept. 9.

“It was very emotional, just because it’s been a long five and a half months not just for myself but for a lot of small businesses in the area,” says Gary Marshall.

Marshall, owner of Fitstop 24 in Niles, tells me he re-opened his gym weeks ago, despite the consequences.

“The moment Governor Whitmer announced bars were going to open I decided it was a good time for us to open. We are just as essential if more essential than bars, nothing against bars. Coming here provided an outlet for them to focus that negative energy into positive energy, avoid suicidal thoughts or being depressed or anxiety or stressed,” Marshall says.

Marshall was fined around $18,000, but he says he had to re-open to pay his rent.

“And I stand by my decision. I knew the consequences and I knew it was important for my children to understand it’s okay to stand up for what’s right,” he says.

Masks will be required when working out, and gyms are expected to have safety measures in place.

Governor Whitmer says in part: “I urge everyone who plans to hit the gym after these orders go into effect to take these precautions seriously and do everything in their power to protect themselves and their families. Be smart, and stay safe.”

At Fitstop 24 Niles, people are expected to physical-distance.

There are hand-sanitizing stations, free masks, gloves and Lysol spray at every station.

“At the end of the day we have to come together as a community and continue to help these small businesses that were shut down for such a long time get through this...it’s the only way we are going to get through it,” Marshall says.

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