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Burlington gym holds outdoor group exercise class 'to show we can be safe and open up' during coronavirus pandemic

One of the attendees rode a stationary bike while holding a North Carolina-shaped signed with the words "Reopen NC."

BURLINGTON, N.C. — A North Carolina gym owner held an outdoor group workout Saturday morning in hopes of sending the message that fitness facilities should be allowed to reopen safely during this stage of the COVID-19 pandemic.

About 20 to 30 people gathered in the parking lot outside Results Driven Fitness in Burlington for the fitness class, which lasted about two hours.

"The message is people want to work out and participate in fitness. They are educated people who are able to make that decision for themselves. We have provided lots of things for them to stay safe and be clean," said gym owner Zack Johnson, who organized the event.

Under phase 2 of North Carolina's three-part reopening plan, indoor exercise facilities are not allowed to reopen. Outdoor gatherings of more than 25 people are prohibited, according to the governor's executive order outlining phase two.

Johnson said he has not been satisfied with how Governor Roy Cooper's administration has handled the closing and planned reopening of gyms, which were originally scheduled to included as part of phase 2 until this past week.

"This whole thing has been incredibly difficult to plan for," Johnson said. 

He said handling membership draft fees, staff schedules, and other business-related matters have been hard to handle. He also believes that a one-size-fits-all closure on fitness facilities is not fair.

"There's a big difference between the size of my gym and a big box gym, and I don't think those things are the same, and they shouldn't be treated the same," Johnson said.

During the outdoor fitness gathering, exercisers rode stationary bikes spaced on the sidewalk outside the fitness facility. A fitness instructor led the group in an upbeat exercise class, complete with speakers and music.

One of the attendees, Bradley Dixon, rode on the stationary bike while holding a North Carolina-shaped signed with the words "Reopen NC," the name of the movement that demands businesses and people be allowed to return to their daily lives pre-pandemic.

"I am a 10th generation resident of Alamance county, so any time rights are threatened in my area, I am going to be right there, and you are going to hear my voice," said Dixon. "Government should never step into our personal lives to take away liberties that were claimed 250 years ago."

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