Fitness clubs speak out about gym defying executive order

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RUTLAND, Vt. (WCAX) Fitness centers across Vermont should be closed, but one gym in Rutland is staying open defying the governor and the court.

Our Olivia Lyons spoke with other local fitness center owners to see what they think of the controversy.

They agree when Sean Manovill reopened Club Fitness he was putting his members' health at risk. They also say this was a business move on Manovill's behalf and it's not fair to them.

"We're anxiously awaiting, we're ready to reopen but I think in fairness, it does need to be a unified opening for every gym in the county and community to be able to do that in the right way," said Tammy Campbell Landon, who owns the Gymnasium in Rutland.

Campbell Landon supports the governor's executive order and says even though everyone wants to get back to a normal life, we need to be patient.

The owner of Rutland CrossFit Rising Star, Rob DiTursi, says Manovill's decision to not comply with the executive order was a way for him to get his business ahead of competing gyms.

"It bothers me when any business breaks the law to get a leg up on other businesses," DiTursi said. "But I am not that kind of business and I know plenty of other gyms in this town that are also not that kind of business. And we know what our mission is, it is to get people healthy and keep people healthy."

First, Manovill agreed to closed down for a week. Then he reopened on Friday.

T.J. Donovan, D-Vt. Attorney General, went to court and a judge ordered Manovill to shut down.

Gov. Phil Scott says his guidelines are put in place for a reason and all businesses need to adhere to them. He discussed Manovill's case, saying if Manovill had been patient, in a few weeks he probably would have been able to open without causing any issues.

"There's a sense of treating everyone the same. So, if we are asking one business to do this and have another go out and do otherwise, it isn't fair to the businesses doing the right thing," said Scott, R-Vermont.

I spoke with Manovill Monday afternoon. He said on Saturday the gym was closed because that was the day they were served the papers, but on Sunday the gym was open again. Now, he is conducting business, not as usual hours, but says it's complicated and some people are still going in to work out.

The other gym owners argue opening early defies supporting the health of the community.

"That's what we're all here to do-- promote a healthy fitness environment for everyone and in a pandemic with a virus, it's quite serious," Campbell Landon said.

I reached out to the attorney general's office for comment. They say the case remains under investigation.

Manovill is due in court on May 29.