Indoor Workout Classes Are Now Banned in DC. How Are Fitness Studios Dealing?


When Mayor Muriel Bowser announced on November 23 that she would enact new restrictions that cancelled—among other things—indoor fitness classes, DC studio owners were taken aback and confused.

“It came out of nowhere,” says Maddie Watkins, who owns the downtown DC strength studio 202 Strong. As Covid cases rose in the region, Watkins had a suspicion that some restrictions were inevitable. She just didn’t think they’d target her business so specifically.

While studios are no longer allowed to host indoor classes, traditional gyms can still operate. And, perhaps most vexing to studio owners, indoor dining is allowed to continue, albeit at a lower capacity.

“I don’t understand the logic,” says Watkins. “I know that the mayor is trying to do what’s best for the city, but to me, the science and the facts didn’t match up.”

Watkins argues that working out in an indoor studio is safer than dining inside, as her clients are masked the entire time and confined to specific zones. At 202Strong, no equipment is shared, she says, and everything is thoroughly cleaned between sessions. And, for what it’s worth, Watkins says she hasn’t had any known Covid cases pop up at her studios.

Neither has Elevate Interval Fitness owner David Magida, which makes him equally frustrated by the new restrictions.

“I understand what the city was attempting to do. They were attempting to deal with bad optics and an assumed source of spread,” he says. “But the only thing they accomplished was effectively hurting small fitness studios without actually increasing safety.”

In an open gym format, it’s harder to control where folks go, how they sanitize their equipment, and to ensure they’re always wearing masks, says Magida. But because it’s the only viable way for fitness spots to operate right now, Magida has transformed his 14th Street studio into an open gym-style space, allowing clients to use the equipment in shifts. Watkins has done the same.

Meanwhile, other studios like Logan Circle’s Cut Seven or Park View’s Sweat DC are surviving by hosting outdoor classes, which are now capped at 25 people. And then there are those who flouted the rules: Solidcore owner Anne Mahlum publicly denounced the Mayor’s new restrictions last week, and continued to operate classes at her DC studios. After a visit from the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, Solidcore announced Monday that it would temporarily close its DC locations.

No matter the studio’s response, the verdict is the same: These restrictions will hurt the small, locally owned businesses. “We will take a hit financially,” Watkins says. And this is on top of the impact the pandemic has already had on her downtown DC location, which used to be frequented by office-goers.

Magida agrees. Just over a week into the new restrictions, Elevate has already seen an “exodus” of clients, he says, which is especially troubling when folks should be prioritizing their health.

“If anything is an essential business [during a pandemic], it’s fitness. It’s keeping people healthy, and their immune

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Poland’s Constitutional Court Has Effectively Banned Abortion, But We Will Not Stop Fighting For Our Fundamental Rights

Polish Abortion Protests Continue - Day Seven
Polish Abortion Protests Continue – Day Seven

A Pro-Choice activist holds a smoke flare during a protest in Krakow’s Market Square. Women’s rights activists and their supporters staged their seventh day of protests in Krakow and all over Poland, opposing pandemic restraint, to express their anger at the ruling of Polish Supreme Court, which tightened the already strict abortion laws. Credit – Artur Widak—NurPhoto via Getty Images

Poland’s anti-abortion laws have always been among the most restrictive in Europe. Until this week the procedure was only permitted when the pregnancy posed a threat to the woman’s life; if there was a fatal fetal abnormality or in cases rape or incest.

However on Oct. 22 the country’s constitutional court ruled that a fatal fetal abnormality was not justification for terminating a pregnancy and violates the constitution. For the over 10 million women of reproductive age in Poland, this ruling effectively puts in place a complete ban on abortion.

According to official data, just over 1,100 legal abortions are performed annually in Poland–98% of which are in cases of fatal fetal abnormalities. The procedure prevented further pain and suffering for both the woman and the fetus.

While the court’s ruling has not yet come into force, many Polish hospitals have already stopped carrying out terminations. Women with scheduled procedures are having their appointments canceled. Women with a diagnosis of fatal fetal abnormality are not being provided with information and don’t know where to find help, left alone with their tragic news. At the Federation for Women and Family Planning we are getting calls from men asking for help for their wives or partners. The women are often so devastated they are unable to speak.

We try to support them as much as possible and there are some doctors who support them too. After our campaigning some hospitals have again begun to perform abortions but it is only a drop in the ocean of what is needed.

The ruling is an outrageous violation of women’s human rights. Women are being treated like living incubators. We do not have any rights, not even the fundamental human rights guaranteed by the Polish Constitution: the right to health, the right to private life, the right to equal treatment.

Not one word was said in defense of women during the debate. The fetus, called the “conceived child,” has the rights of an already existing life. During the Tribunal’s debate the most cruel statement was that we cannot “kill a conceived child” just because its birth would “reduce the comfort of a woman’s life.”

Forcing a woman to give birth to a child with severe, irreversible conditions is cruelty. Whether or not to keep the pregnancy should be the decision of the woman, or the woman and her partner. They will be the only ones to bear the traumatic consequences of this decision.

The politicians of the ruling party in Poland allowed the politicized Tribunal to issue what is a cruel and shameful decision. They hoped that the

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