There's a petition circulating online, pleading Governor Ron Desantis to allow small, privately-owned gyms to open during Phase One of reopening Florida.
In the last seven weeks since being forced to close her doors, Carrie Andrade, who owns Elite Training & Fitness in Port Charlotte, has been trying to stay afloat, and keep her clients motivated online. She said it's been a challenge.
"There's a limit to whatever your goals are, to what you can achieve at home," she said. "Our small studios, we're a community, and we keep each other motivated. But it's a real change not being able to see everybody in person."
Andrade said she's seen restaurants, barbershops, nail salons, and hair salons reopen, and she's trying to be patient.
"I feel like we're being left out. I feel like we're the forgotten crowd," Andrade said.
When she came across a petition online, written by a small gym in Boca Raton, asking the Governor to allow small, privately-owned gyms to reopen now, she signed it right away.
"I signed it and shared it. And all of our members have been gracious enough to sign it and share it as well," Andrade said.
The petition says for small, privately-owned gyms, "it would be very easy to maintain safety standards ... and allow our coaches to work, clients to maintain good health, and operations to continue in some capacity, with the right precautions in place."
"We're more of a private studio, so nobody can just walk in and come to use our equipment. They have to have an appointment. And then they're always with a trainer, so before and after the client uses the equipment, it's always cleaned, sanitized," she said.
Andrade also said they can easily limit the size of their group classes, and make sure everyone is at least six feet apart.
"We need to survive somehow, too, and were limited. I still have to pay rent here. It’s going on two months now," she said.
As of Tuesday, the petition has close to 3,000 signatures, and Andrade said that shows her gym is just one of hundreds ready to get clients healthy and active.
"Health has been my top priority. We are doing everything possible. We've ordered those temperature scanners to scan everybody when they come in. We have an antibacterial mat you step on when you first walk in, and then all the cleaning supplies to keep everything sanitized. So we're prepared and we're ready," she said.
Part of our commitment to our "Rebound Southwest Florida" series includes getting you answers, finding solutions, and reaching out to the people who have the power to make changes. Fox 4 sent this petition to the local members of the Reopen Florida Task Force. Commissioner Brian Hamman said the task force sent their recommendations to the Governor about the phases of reopening Florida at the end of last month, and it's the Governor who would make a decision like this. Fox 4 has reached out to Governor DeSantis's team multiple times over the last five days, to see if he would consider allowing these small, privately-owned gyms to reopen during Phase One, and when Phase Two is expected to begin. We have yet to hear back.