Residents push to reopen gyms in 'purple tier' Tulare County

State rules say fitness facilities located in 'purple tier' counties, such as Tulare, can only operate outdoors.
TULARE COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- Some residents of Tulare County say they are suffering mentally and physically because they still can't work out at their gyms due to COVID-19 closures.

"I just can't go up to Sequoia (National Park) every day to get the fitness that I need in," said James Van Etten. "So it's important for me to have access to the proper equipment.

State rules say fitness facilities located in 'purple tier' counties, such as Tulare, can only operate outdoors, while gyms in counties with less restrictive tiers can be open inside at a reduced capacity.

But many gym-goers and owners say it's time for Governor Gavin Newsom to relax his stance on 'purple tier' gyms and allow them to reopen indoors too, including the Planet Fitness in Tulare.

"We understand that it's a tough decision and we do respect his decision," said Planet Fitness Regional Manager Megan Hadley. "We're just asking for his administration to establish a science-based approach to the four tiers."

Hadley says the switch to outdoor operations wasn't feasible for their four South Valley locations because they don't have the space.

And finding alternatives can be challenging for some residents.

Many can't afford home gym equipment, and others don't feel comfortable working out outside.

"My gym was a safe space for me where I could exercise," a gym member named, Stacy, said. "No one was judging me or saying anything inappropriate to me."

Ellen Daniels says her home workouts haven't provided the recharge she craves as a busy mother of two little girls.

"We need a safe place to go for our own well-being and thus for the well-being of our children and our spouses," Daniels said. "I want to be the best mother I can be and part of that is showing my daughters how important physical and mental health is by demonstrating that in my own life."

Daniels says she never felt that her health was at risk when Tulare County gyms temporarily reopened over the summer.

Even as the country faces the possibility of a new wave of coronavirus infections this winter, the fitness faithful firmly believe that Tulare County gyms can reopen safely, so they can finally feel some relief from COVID fatigue.

In a response to Action News, the California Department of Public Health reiterated that 'purple tier' gyms can only operate outside, and if there are any changes to the guidance, that will be posted on their website.
Copyright © 2021 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.