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'We were ready to go' | Triad small gym owners upset with decision to keep their businesses closed in Phase 2

Gyms, bars, and bowling alleys are just a few businesses that were expected to reopen under North Carolina's Phase 2 reopening plan.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — As North Carolina prepares to enter phase 2 of the reopening plan Friday, many small gym owners are expressing frustration after it was announced gyms would remain closed.

"We were ready to go. We set up workout stations where there would be almost 100 sq. ft. of space in between each station. Each one would have their own separate piece of equipment and everything," said John Meeks owner of CrossFit Greensboro.

Meeks said he even purchased 8,000 wipes and other cleaning products. He didn't expect  Gov. Roy Cooper to remove gyms from the list of businesses allowed to open in phase 2.

RELATED: What you should know about North Carolina’s Safer-at-Home Phase 2 Reopening plan

In phase 2, businesses like pools, hair and nail salons, restaurants, and massage therapy can reopen. Bars, gyms and fitness centers must remain closed.

"So it was almost like a stab in the back when we heard that other facilities were able to open up," Meeks said

Meeks said he doesn't understand the reasoning for gyms to remain closed, especially given professional and collegiate athletes were given permission to train.

"If it's safe for a group of 10 to work out or professional teams to get together and work out, why would it not be safe in my setting where I can guarantee space in between. I can make sure everything is cleaned properly," he said.

Kati Banks, owner of the Cycle Loft in Greensboro agreed.

She said boutique fitness gyms have the advantage of controlling their environment over a box gym with equipment everywhere.

"I feel that if we can adhere to the same guidelines as a pool or a nail salon or a hair salon or a restaurant, I don't see why again why we are clumped in with everything else," she said.

Gyms breed bacteria Banks admitted, but she added they can't stay closed forever.

"I do see, I guess, that in a gym they are saying you're wiping your face and you're using towels and you're breathing heavy. I get that. But I also get that it's going to kind of continue to be this way so we got to start somewhere," Banks said

Gyms may be able to open up as part of phase 3, which wouldn't happen until June 26 at the earliest. Meeks said he's worried he may not last that long.

"It may end us as a business. Twelve years in business, the oldest CrossFit gym in Greensboro and this could possibly put us out of business," Meeks said.

RELATED: Durham will continue restrictions until at least June 1

RELATED: Coronavirus in North Carolina: First case of rare, serious children's inflammatory disease reported

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