Life Time urges members to get vocal about impending COVID closures

Life Time says that virtually no coronavirus cases have been found to originate in their gyms, but that they will be forced to furlough 4,000 employees anyway when Walz announces the next round of COVID closures.

(Facebook/Life Time)

Life Time urged its members to get vocal as Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz is expected to close gyms for a second time, citing coronavirus fears.

A source in the governor’s office reports that gyms, movie theaters, bowling alleys and other public indoor facilities will be ordered to close Wednesday when the governor addresses Minnesota, per a local ABC affiliate. Bahram Akradi, the man behind Life Time, says this will leave 4,000 of his employees without work and his 120,000 members without access to their health clubs.

This comes “at a time when there is no federal stimulus support to enhance the minimal amount of state-level unemployment compensation available to” Life Time’s soon-to-be furloughed employees, the founder and CEO wrote in an email to his club members.

Bahram Akradi. (Life Time)

The last time Walz ordered gyms to shut down was March 17, but the closure was extended through June 10, despite an organized campaign launched by gym owners. This time, however, Akradi is calling on gym goers to call, email or engage the governor on social media to “send a very respectful” message expressing a desire to keep the gyms open.

“Heath clubs are not the problem, they are the solution to maintaining public health. They are, in fact, the safest environments people may visit as compared with other forms of retail, entertainment, or any other place, at this time,” Akradi wrote.

He noted that Life Time has experienced over 21 million visits nationally since May, and that only .00004% of those visits resulted in COVID-19 transmission.

Even outside of Life Time, gyms do not appear to pose an outsized risk to public health in Minnesota. There have only been 747 cases of COVID-19 in Minnesota that originated in gyms, meaning that working out has a .003% infection rate in the state, according to Akradi’s email.

Meanwhile, the state has also unveiled crackdowns on the holiday season, banning gatherings of more than 10 people or gatherings of any size that involve parties from more than three households, including the host. This measure went into effect on Nov. 13, with no projected end date, per the Minnesota Department of Health.

“As tempting as it is to stick with our cherished traditions this year, we need people to reconsider,” Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said during a Monday press conference, according to MPR. “The plans we thought were OK a few weeks ago are now unsafe,” she added.