RICHLAND — One more Tri-Cities gym has joined other fitness centers in moving its focus under the umbrella of alternative medicine as a way of staying open during COVID closures.
Columbia Basin Racquet Club has pivoted to become the CBRC Health & Wellness Clinic after the state’s latest rules call for fitness facilities across Washington to close indoor operations until Dec. 14 to slow soaring virus infections.
Outdoor fitness classes are permitted, as long as they follow social gathering and distancing guidelines.
The club updated documents with the Secretary of State on Nov. 19 to say that it “will be operating an alternative medicine and health care clinic with an individualized goal-centered approach for improved health and wellness.”
The definition of what constitutes a wellness center or where is falls under Washington state COVID Safe Start rules is not clear.
“There may be additional or different regulatory requirements with a new activity description separate from the business license that would be the responsibility of the business owner to comply with,” Mickhail Carpenter, communications director of the Department of Revenue told the Herald this week.
The club posted Nov. 17 that it was closing because of the state order, though swim lessons and the preschool continued.
However, the club sent an email to members on Sunday that said, “We strongly believe that exercise is medicine and can have a great impact on physical and emotional well-being. Balanced nutrition and functional movement helps with stress reduction and disease prevention. We are ready to help you design your personal program for a healthier and fulfilling life.”
The clinic planned to reopen Tuesday, a doctor’s prescription or an intake form will be required, masks must be worn at all time — and only surgical masks, double-ply cloth masks and N-95 are acceptable, said the email.
The club also said it will be doing temperature checks on anyone entering the facility and will continue to have members adhere to social distancing guidelines the club set during the Phase 2 opening.
“We have done an excellent job of creating space and distance; our cleaning practices have gone to the next level; and our members have taken it seriously because they want to be here as badly as we do,” Cole Willis, general manager of CBRC previously told the Herald. “It’s not just a luxury, it’s part of what keeps them alive.”
Before the pandemic began, the gym had 200 employees equivalent to 75 full-time positions. Only a third of those returned during the months when gyms could reopen.
Last week, the Washington Fitness Alliance wrote a letter imploring Inslee to change his stance. “It makes no sense to penalize a sector that, according to data and studies, has not been a source of COVID-19 infections and has proven it can safely provide a valuable service to the public during the pandemic,” said the letter.
“Research has demonstrated that our physical well being directly correlates to our emotional well-being, particularly during times of stress. This is especially important as we navigate the stresses with COVID 19 quarantines, school closures, the aftermath of wildfires and uncertain economic times,” said the alliance.
The Tri-City Court Club made a similar switch in its business model to a wellness center last summer, followed in recent days by Club 24, Gold’s Gym and LifeQuest facilities in the Tri-Cities.