R.I. fitness clubs fined for refusing to close during two-week COVID-19 ‘pause’

WARREN, R.I. — An owner of fitness clubs in Rhode Island is defying an order from Governor Gina M. Raimondo for all gyms and recreational facilities to close for two weeks as health officials try to slow an alarming spike in COVID-19 cases.



a man holding a phone: The owner of Maxx Fitness Clubzz, Matt D'Amico, leaves his facility in Lincoln on Wednesday. He has decided to stay open despite the governor's orders for fitness clubs to close for two week. He said the spring closure was financially devastating.


© John Tlumacki/Globe Staff
The owner of Maxx Fitness Clubzz, Matt D’Amico, leaves his facility in Lincoln on Wednesday. He has decided to stay open despite the governor’s orders for fitness clubs to close for two week. He said the spring closure was financially devastating.

The two-week pause that started Monday closed bars, gyms, and casinos, asks most high school students to learn from home, and orders companies to have most employees work from home.

Matt D’Amico, who owns The Maxx Fitness Clubzz franchises in Lincoln and Warren, opened as usual on Monday, however, and has remained open since then. He said that closing would be financially devastating.

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“We did it in March and the shutdown lasted 10, 12 weeks. I just can’t survive it again,” D’Amico said. “It’s not about profitability — it’s landlords, equipment rentals, payroll and staff. And, I don’t think it’s right, when everyone else gets to stay open.”

The Health Department issued $500 fines at both locations and ordered the facilities to close immediately and stay closed until the restrictions are lifted.

But D’Amico has refused to shut down. Both Maxx locations were open and busy Wednesday.

“You can say we’re fighting for freedom. It’s what it is,” D’Amico said. “I invested millions of dollars.”

Raimondo ordered the two-week pause in an attempt to stem the rising wave of new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, which led to the opening of field hospitals on Monday. Rhode Island was up to 59,005 confirmed coronavirus cases on Wednesday, with 1,032 new cases, 11 more deaths, and 408 people hospitalized.

The governor’s office and Health Department referred questions about Maxx Fitness Clubzz to the state Department of Business Regulation, where a spokesman declined to comment “as it is an ongoing and actively evolving situation.”

The fitness clubs are the first businesses to be cited since the pause began on Monday. “I have legal counsel, and we’ll take it day by day,” D’Amico said. “I don’t think fitness centers should be singled out… I believe I have constitutional rights to be able to operate my business.”

D’Amico said his fitness centers have complied with other coronavirus-related all of the Health regulations, keeping the facilities clean and screening staff and customers for COVID-19 symptoms. Health officials told them that some visitors to the fitness centers had tested positive for COVID, but they inspected the facilities and found no problems, he said.

“We have a bunch of customers, and a lot of new members are signing up,” Stephen Couture, the manager of the Lincoln club, said Wednesday.

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Senators call for pause to Army’s new Combat Fitness Test

Oct. 21 (UPI) — Two senators said Wednesday they have called for a delay in implementing the U.S. Army’s Combat Fitness Test, citing a possible detriment to creating a diverse force.

A letter signed by Sen. Kristin Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., sent a letter to the chairman and ranking members of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees warning that rollout of the revised test was premature and deserved additional study.

“Significant concerns have been raised regarding the data used to develop the test, initial test scores, and logistical issues,” the senators wrote. “The ACFT will determine the career path and success of all soldiers currently serving, yet many information gaps and unknowns remain.”

It suggested that the ACFT could adversely impact soldiers’ professional prospects, upset recruitment efforts and disproportionally affect women in the Army, and noted that few women were included in early testing groups.

“In 2019, the Army identified the six events of the ACFT and began conducting field tests within 63 battalions across the organization,” the senators wrote. “Preliminary data was leaked showing an overall failure rate of 84 percent for females and 30 percent for males within these battalions.”

The test is an attempt by the Army to establish effective but gender-neutral standards for soldiers’ fitness and readiness, and replaces Army previous fitness tests which clearly displayed a bias but were less rigorous.

Six events are involved in the new test, including a dead lift, weighted ball throw and a “leg tuck,” in which soldiers lift themselves up from a pullup bar using their arm, core and leg muscles.

The leg tuck is largely responsible for the 65 percent failure rate for women and the 10 percent failure rate for men.

The letter from Gillibrand and Blumenthal cited a University of Iowa study that showing that the removal of the leg-tuck could significantly improve success rates. The letter said the leg tuck is “the same event which has no proven predictive value to military occupation.”

It also noted that the previously used Army Physical Fitness Test required no equipment other than a stopwatch, while “the ACFT requires approximately $3,000 worth of equipment to put one individual through the test.”

Gillibrand and Blumenthal added that the test is irrelevant, and possibly damaging, to the careers of Army lawyers, cybersecurity specialists and other non-combat enlistees.

The senators recommend that the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act include a provision allowing Congress to delay use of the ACFT until it is independently reviewed.

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Senators ask for pause on Army’s new fitness test, call it ‘premature’

Two senators are asking for a delay in the Army’s implementation of its new combat fitness test, or ACFT, pending an independent study of how it will effect critical career fields and soldiers deployed to austere outposts.

Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., asked in a letter sent Tuesday to the House and Senate armed services committees for the ACFT roll-out to be paused and studied.

“We acknowledge that the ACFT 2.0 is a work in progress, but we have considerable concerns regarding the negative impact it may already be having on so many careers,” the senators said in the letter, a copy of which was provided to Army Times. “It is imperative that we pause implementation until all questions and concerns are answered.”

The six-event ACFT is a noticeably more difficult test than that which it replaces, with higher failure rates recorded among women. The increased difficultly is often attributed to the ACFT’s emphasis on core and upper body strength through exercises like the deadlift and hanging leg-tuck.

Army cadets perform the three-repetition deadlift, the first of the six events of the Army Combat Fitness Test. (Eric Bartelt/Army)

The letter, first reported by the Washington Post, noted that Army data shows “a consistent” 65 percent failure rate for women and 10 percent failure rate for men. The letter cited a University of Iowa study that showed eliminating the leg-tuck would significantly reduce failure rates.

Gillibrand and Blumenthal said there are “significant concerns” regarding the data used to develop the ACFT that trace back to a study conducted several years ago.

That study demonstrated the leg-tuck was not a significant predictive variable of how a soldier would perform their duties, but was still included in the six-event test regardless. The study’s test group also underrepresented women, the senators added, with the average participant being a 24-year-old man.

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Let’s stay active when gyms are closed and sports are on pause



Early-morning exercisers get in a workout at a Montreal gym on Oct. 5, days before the city's gyms had to close again.


© Provided by The Gazette
Early-morning exercisers get in a workout at a Montreal gym on Oct. 5, days before the city’s gyms had to close again.

Here we go again. As the number of COVID-19 cases has risen back to critical levels across the country, gyms are seeing their capacities reduced or being closed altogether. Limits have been placed on team sports at the recreational and competitive level. And while not all provinces have put the brakes on sports and certain other types of physical activity, the risk of another coast-to-coast shutdown is high.

Back in March, when gyms closed for the first time, spring was right around the corner. Days were getting longer and the weather warmer, which made it easier to find ways to do a workout outdoors . This time around, it’s dark when we roll out of bed and dark again when we sit down to dinner, which means it’s less inviting at either end of the day to get in a workout.

With more obstacles in their way, Canadians are likely to go back to the more sedentary habits they adopted in the spring, when — according to data collected by ParticipACTION, the national organization whose mandate is to get Canadians moving — people were more likely to watch television or sit in front of a computer screen than exercise.

When it comes to the consequences of COVID-19, a lack of exercise may seem trivial, but for many people exercise isn’t just a boost to their physical health; it also improves their mental health — a theory that’s supported by a growing body of evidence. The World Health Organization defines mental health as “a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.”

Some people actively seek out exercise as a therapeutic option to improve mental health, be it at the suggestion of a medical professional or by virtue of the good feeling that often accompanies a good sweat. Others are so used to their exercise routine that they go into a funk when their workout schedule is disrupted. Then there are those who have very defined goals that are at risk of being abandoned without access to a training facility, which adds to their stress level.

Also worth mentioning is the loss of social connection, which can be felt by anyone who plays team sports or prefers to sweat in a group versus on their own. Beer-league hockey, soccer and basketball players, curlers, masters athletes, gym rats and others of all ages who play organized sports are at risk of being negatively affected emotionally and physically by the loss of their exercise routine.

Several studies have emerged looking at the mental health effects of the change in physical activity during the COVID-19 pandemic, most of which came to a similar conclusion: those who let

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