Sued Vermont gym reopens as outdoor fitness facility

Published: May. 19, 2020 at 12:32 PM EDT
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A gym in Rutland is open again after being shut down for violating the governor's orders. Our Olivia Lyons shows you why the owner says his new plan puts him in compliance.

"Open the gyms. It's essential. If it's done right. It's essential," Elizabeth Brown said.

Brown is a member of Club Fitness. She had a training session with Andrew Graciano Tuesday afternoon.

"This type of fitness is absolutely essential to me," she said. "It is essential for my health physically, mentally and emotionally."

Graciano says people have been calling about personal training sessions all day since discovering gym owner Sean Manovill is conducting workouts outside.

"It's awesome and this isn't the first time we have trained outside. During the summer we do offer outdoor classes. It's great to get outdoors, the sunshine is great, get a nice sweat on. There is absolutely nothing wrong with it," Graciano said.

On Tuesday, Manovill brought his gym equipment outside. According to him, he talked to Attorney General T.J. Donovan who said that is acceptable.

WCAX News reached out to the attorney general's office. It says according to the state's guidance, some outdoor recreation and fitness activities are allowed under certain health and safety conditions.

"Everyone that comes by Route 7 is honking and waving, people pulling into the parking lot, coming up and social distancing to tell me how happy they are that we are doing this," Manovill said.

Lynn Grandchamp is one person who stopped by to share her gratitude. She is not a current member but will be signing up after seeing Manovill's stance.

"I am so happy they are open! Oh my, God! Yes! I want to be a member because I am happy they opened against what everybody else is doing and staying closed," Grandchamp said.

Manovill says he has had about a dozen fitness facilities from other communities reach out to him offering support and asking to come up with new COVID-19-friendly fitness ideas.

"These people really care about everybody's safety. It's hands down a very clean place. For us not to be able to do this. For the governor to not open this yet, is just wrong," Brown said.

Manovill explained he is conducting his gym in compliance with both the state's and governor's orders after being threatened with possible jail time.

The full statement from the Vermont attorney general's office:

"The Rutland Superior Court's order enjoined Club Fitness of Vermont and Mr. Manovill from conducting any in-person, indoor operations at any fitness center so long as the Governor’s Executive Order prohibits them from doing so. The Court scheduled a hearing for May 29, 2020.

"Pursuant to the Governor's executive orders, fitness centers remain closed. Some outdoor recreation and fitness activities, however, are allowed under certain health and safety conditions. According to the Agency of Commerce and Community Development's sector guidance, such allowable activities include personal training when certain protective measures are followed.

"A letter outlining permissible outdoor recreation and fitness activities will be sent to Mr. Manovill tomorrow. A copy of the letter will be posted on the Attorney General's Office's website."

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