Dear Mayor Siddiqui and Members of the City Council,

I was moved by Mayor Siddiqui’s comments related to the importance of our schools in last night’s City Council meeting.  I also fully agree with the sentiments of the entire council that the current increase in COVID-19 cases is unacceptable and action must be taken to safeguard the health of our community. If you do determine it is necessary to close some indoor businesses, please follow the data and allow Fitness Centers (i.e. Gyms) to remain open.

I would like to request a moment of your time to further discuss this. We will clear our schedules for a virtual meeting (or in person if you prefer) so we can work together to safely improve our community’s health and continue our economic recovery.

  • The Data Show Fitness Centers are Safe.
    • Colorado has released contact tracing data linking outbreaks to settings. Of 26,569 total cases linked to outbreaks traced, they found 945 cases linked to bars and restaurants and 830 cases linked to offices, but only 4 cases resulting from a single outbreak linked to health clubs or fitness centers in Colorado. Colorado opened health clubs and fitness centers in June.  See IHRSA Data Memo 2011.13.20.pdf for more details and data.
    • At Healthworks Cambridge (35 White St), we have recorded over 9,000 visits since reopening in July with no reported cases of COVID from members or staff.  As a reference, in the same time period last year we had over 80,000 visits (11% of normal).  If you have not been in a club with COVID protocols in place, please come for a visit.  I don’t think you will find a safer indoor environment.  We have gone above and beyond the state guidelines and require masks to be worn at all times, upgraded our HVAC, installed AIR-PHX to continually clean air and surfaces, regularly disinfect using electrostatic sprayers, etc.
  • Fitness Facilities can enforce COVID-protocols better than most industries. We know the most critical elements to keeping indoor areas safe are the ability to wear a mask, stay distanced, enforce high cleaning standards and contact trace. Fitness facilities can and do enforce the same standards as health care facilities, see the chart below as an example.
  • Access to Exercise is CRITICAL for Health Care Equity. Shutting down access to exercise has significantly more negative impact on lower socio-economic groups in Cambridge. The suggested alternatives to working out at a gym, discriminate against many communities in Cambridge.
    • “Take it outside” – This does not help our communities as the temperature drops.
    • Virtual Fitness/“Workout at Home” – A home gym is not an option for people who cannot afford it or who live in a small space with no room to exercise.
  • Access to Exercise is CRITICAL to create a healthy community and should be encouraged rather than restricted.  Exercise improves immunity and combats obesity, a huge factor in getting and suffering from COVID-19. Exercise also improves our mental and physical health.  A lifestyle that incorporates exercise improves longevity, stress management, energy, mental focus, mood, and a host of health markers, plus greatly contributes to strengthening the immune system. In addition, muscular strength, bone/structural strength, flexibility, cardiovascular health, and aerobic conditioning are also improved.
  • Chicago – The city of Chicago was faced with the same decision you are facing this week and decided to close many indoor businesses but leave Fitness Centers Open.  Please see the attached letter from the Chicago Medical Society.

My family has operated a Health Club in Porter Square since 1986 and are fully committed to the health of the community.  Our members alerted us to the city council meeting, and I understand that several of them are also sharing their feelings on this matter.  I look forward to discussing this more with you and continuing to serve our community.


Mark Harrington Jr | President

Healthworks Fitness and Republic Fitness