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CrossFit gym owners petition to become essential businesses in Wisconsin

Courtesy: Kristina Baxter

WISCONSIN (CBS 58) -- CrossFit gym owners from around the state are banding together and trying to get their businesses to be deemed "essential" by the state.

"CrossFit first and foremost is community," said Kristina Baxter, who owns CrossFit Repentance in Waterford with her husband, Joel.
"We've lost members, but we've also retained a lot of members because they want a gym to come back to."

A group of CrossFit affiliates in Wisconsin crafted a petition and best practice guidelines that they have sent to lawmakers and state agencies. They have even had business owners in other states reach out asking to adopt the petition for their own states.

CrossFit gyms, like many other small businesses, are taking a hit while they remain closed.

"We've had to be so creative to keep our business going. We have a lot invested in that: not just money but also friendships," Joel Baxter said.

But their rationale for wanting to be considered essential businesses stems far beyond that. They say they keep people healthy at a time when health is arguably the most important thing.

"The comorbidities of the virus that are threatening so many people right now -- those are like the primary things that are addressed through the type of training that we do," said Matt DiMarco of CrossFit Manitowoc.

DiMarco mentioned reduction in blood pressure, reduction in resting heart rate, improving the immune system and helping combat Type 2 diabetes and obesity.

Baxter said many of her gym's members are frontline workers, including nurses, firefighters and police officers.

They also argue that small gyms, yoga studios and other gyms with small class sizes can control environments in a way that grocery stores or larger gyms can't.

If they were able to reopen, they said they would implement increased social distancing measures, such as larger spacing in between members, checking members' temperatures and not allowing any shared equipment.

"A hardware store, for example, can't control the volume or the amount of people that are coming inside of a store at any given moment. Our abilities as affiliates and gym owners and private coaching facilities is that we have that control," said Tyler Sullivan of Badger CrossFit in Wauwatosa.

The CrossFit gym owners recognize that they're not the only local businesses suffering. They've been offering virtual classes and loaning out or giving away equipment trying to help their members stay on the bandwagon.

Business owners can request that their businesses be deemed essential on the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.'s website.

CBS 58 contacted WEDC and Gov. Tony Evers' office for comment about their petition but have not heard back.

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Mark 41 days ago
Saying crossfit is an essential business is one of the stupidest things I have heard since game stop tried to say the same thing. Why would you go to a half assed gym and possibly get exposed to covid-19. How stupid can people be? Well again.... We are talking about crossfit people.....
You can't fix stupid -- what a stupid idea...sweat and saliva spewing everywhere. When customers get sick and die, what will be their answer???
MonicaThein 42 days ago
Nurse 78. I don’t know what kind of health you’re in or shape. But. I also am a nurse and the comments you’ve made actually are enough to really get my goat. I’m 52. I do crossfit. And it not only helps with bone mass and heart rate and much more but the people involved all work hard for their best health. It’s about being healthy. And if you can’t understand as a nurse that without health you have absolutely nothing you my friend are the problem. Crossfit any fitness is essential to good health. Absolutely without a doubt. I was a fitness instructor and work in a nursing home. My patients with all the health concerns and heart issues were not the seniors I taught fitness classes to in the morning. Let me just say. They are same age. The difference in mindset. The healthy seniors were the ones showing up at the gym every day that actually gave a shit about themselves. Not the ones with diabetes losing limbs and gaining weight because of poor choices, smoking and drinking. Absolutely without a doubt the gyms are essential. And cleaner than any grocery store. The equipment is cleaned after use and a safe distance can be controlled and maintained.
Better go hug your grandparents. This is rude and nasty comment.
In response to nurse 78 comments which I feel are extremely rude. The point being there’s a big difference in those who work out daily vs those who just don’t care about their health. Exercise is essential.
Nurse78 42 days ago
Oh and - even before coronavirus - the best form of exercise for people with high blood pressure and type 2 DM is walking - which can still be done safely right now per social distancing rules. But let’s be honest this isn’t about health for our actual community members - it’s about satisfying your craving for exercise addiction. Exercise addiction is a real thing, but addiction overall is hard for us to admit. Perhaps if you can’t live without CrossFit, you should see a mental health provider.
AK Nurse78 41 days ago
First, I would like to say thank you to you and all the nurses who are out there helping with this issue we are currently dealing with. These are hard times for everyone.

I would say that if someone is interested in health care then they would be going to a gym or exercising regularly and watching their food intake and consumption, because they are concerned with their health and taking care of it. I would argue that doctors and nurses are not "healthcare" they are "diseasecare." They help people who are no longer healthy and are battling disease and they give them pills to mask the issues they are dealing with. Pills are like band-aids, they cover the problem up but don't make it go away. Now this is also a generalization because not all nurses and doctors fit into this category. There are definitely some proactive individuals who are trying to help people become truly healthy. On the flip side of it, you cannot blame a business owner to want to re-open their business. What is "essential" lies in the eye of the beholder. For someone who needs a small business as their form of income then that business is "essential" for them to buy groceries for their family and provide for them. Unfortunately for small business owners, there might not be unemployment to fall back on, and it's very frustrating for an individual who has worked very hard to build something up watch it fall apart and there is nothing they can do about it. That would be like you being in your final year of nursing and then to be forced to stop going and start losing credits having to re-build what you spent the last 4 years building.

Lastly, this is a very difficult and sided issue to talk about, but let's at least keep it civil and refrain from name calling. We most likely won't change the way each other feel about this, but that doesn't mean we can't have a good conversation in which we both can make very valid claims.

I'm not sure I completely agree with crossfit gyms being able to open, because it might not be best for everyone, however the world won't stop spinning if a gym owner has to close their doors and go out of business. So, why should that individual be concerned for the general public, when the general public won't stop for a second to help that owner in their time of need.
Nurse78 42 days ago
No. Period. No. Heavy breathing in an exercise class is NOT essential. If you want an essential job where you’ll lose weight and work hard, go work in healthcare where you would actually be essential or stock shelves at the local grocery store. Otherwise, if you must do CrossFit and nothing else, do it in your living room - ALONE. The world will go on without CrossFit. I’ll risk my life as a nurse to help put you on a ventilator after your CrossFit class. Cheers to stupid people but especially the narcissistic health gurus who can’t prioritize what actually matters right now.
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