Shutdown 2.0 Update #2
Posted on December 15, 2020
Here is the email I alluded to late last week regarding the most recent announcement from the governor and the further restrictions/closures. Our closure has been extended by an additional 3 weeks. As of now, our next opening target date will be January 4th. As we have said in the past, we will be working toward this date, while holding it loosely.
No - this is not what we want. Yes - we would rather see you daily in the gym. But the decisions that dictate our lives are not always in our control. How I, as a business owner, and we, as a gym community, move forward considering this latest mandated closure has been fraught with tension in my own life. At moments I have felt the only responsible way forward is to stay the course and do whatever I can to limit the possible transference of the disease. In the next moment, I'm convicted that Duratus has always been about the holistic health and wellness of our members and I am crazy not to reopen to offer what I believe is an incredibly important service. And somewhere along this spectrum, I am faced with the reality of the solvency of this business I have worked hard to build over the last 7 years. All this to say, there are no easy answers to how one should be at this time. As I have processed over the last week, and what I am absolutely convinced of, is that I have a unique role to be a leader in this community. The responsibility for the welfare of the Duratus membership rests on my shoulders, and I do not take this position lightly.
I believe we should be open. I believe we can operate safely. Over the course of the 6 months we were open this summer/fall, I estimate that we had a weekly class attendance of 400 individuals, 1600 monthly, or close to 10,000 visits through our facility between May 26th - November 15th. To my knowledge, there was zero transference of COVID-19 through Dūrātus during this time. Certainly, we had members who attended classes while they were unknowingly positive. In fact, we had coaches who coached over 60 members while unknowingly positive for the disease, yet due to our masking policy, practice of distancing, and cleaning protocol - not one member contracted the disease through attending a class at Dūrātus. We have proven that a gym like ours can operate in a safe way.
I know there are other gyms in Easter Washington, even in our city, that have reopened. Some have done so with complete disregard for the current mandate. Others have used the loophole of reclassifying their business operation under the auspice of "wellness center" or "family and individual services'' or even "mental health clinic" - this has allowed them to technically open and operate. I believe each business gets to decide what they think is best for their own clientele. I have researched these different options. I have made the appropriate phone calls to local/state agencies inquiring about the options I have. But at the end of the day, for a number of reasons, neither of the above ways to reopen have resonated with me. Besides the ongoing issue of state compliance, I am not ready to take on another business designation, for the reality that it implies Dūrātus is only now about "wellness" or "mental health". Since we opened in 2013, we have been very clear that we would use the vehicle of fitness for the betterment of our members. For their physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health. Maybe I'm being dramatic, but to use a loophole to reopen under a different business banner feels like it discredits 7 years of work. I am not ready to put cardboard over the windows and open in secrecy, my integrity will not allow it. Nor am I ready to search for a potential workaround that diminishes the veracity of Dūrātus' longstanding set of values. So, there is only one course of action left. Lead.
Last week, I reached out to 5 other local gym owners and asked if they would be willing to lead with me for change in the city. We have formed the Stronger Together Coalition and are working with our county commissioners, local attorneys, and SRHD board to plead our case that fitness is an essential service. The work required in this endeavor is uncharted territory for me, but I will not shy away for advocating for what I believe to be true. You, as a member of Dūrātus, are too important to me to just be silent. I have sought to follow any/all guidance throughout this process and I will continue to do so, however there is a time when leaders need to step out front and push back. I'm committed to help lead this charge, to raise our voices and bring attention to the facts that fitness is essential and the data that supports our ability to operate safely. We have diligently been working the proper channels to challenge the sweeping mandates and will continue to be a dissenting voice in this manner. Will this result in an earlier opening of Dūrātus - I sincerely hope so, but that’s not the driving reason? I'm leading in this way because it's how I am convicted in my spirit and it's what I believe is best. In my almost 40 years of life, I have learned that leading for what is right and good is far greater than simply trying to secure the short term results we want. Whether you agree or not with the route I am choosing to go, I assure you it's founded in the principles that have formed Dūrātus from the beginning.
The fundamental truth that I think is important to be reminded of is this: COVID has been devastating for millions of people. Sickness, loss of life, loss of work, and isolation are real experiences that many of us have had to wrestle with in the past 9 months. Regardless of your political affiliation, there is no denying that COVID has affected us all and has changed much of what we once counted on. And because, my singular focus has not wavered from working toward the reopening of Dūrātus as a place of safety, connection, health and wellness for membership.
While I am working in this way - my staff and I are continuing to try to bring as much value to our members as we possibly can in our distanced reality.
We have been able to work with a significant portion of you to put memberships on hold or reduce membership costs. I fully understand the financial realities that many are facing right now and I will continue to do what I can to work with people on an individual level. For those that have faithfully stayed the course and continued to pay their membership. Thank you for supporting local business. Thank you for sacrificing to support Dūrātus. There are not enough words to truly convey my gratefulness.
Right now, my encouragement to you is this...work to find, implement and practice healthy strategies and rhythms in your life. Intentionally move each day. Be smart in how you eat. Recover and rest when needed. Take time to find moments of thankfulness. These are all practices that we have discussed and tried to teach in our classes. Although we are not together on a consistent basis, be confident in your self-efficacy and don't hesitate to reach out if you need help.
Although much work is being done behind the scenes, nothing is changing in the immediate. As I have more information, I will certainly communicate and bring you all up to speed.