Health

DC Sued Urban Athletic Club for Violating Covid-19 Restrictions. Now the Club Has Agreed to Abide by Them.

The lawsuit says the gym didn't abide to mask, social distancing, or sanitation guidelines.

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A DC fitness group that had been sued by DC’s attorney general for repeated Covid-19 safety violations—many of them documented on the group’s own social media accounts—has agreed to adhere to Mayor Muriel Bowser’s emergency orders, according to a press release from the attorney general’s office.

A lawsuit filed earlier this month states that Urban Athletic Club did not adhere to guidelines regarding mask-use, social distancing, and the proper spacing and sanitation of stations and equipment. According to Bowser’s phase two restrictions on gyms and fitness, clients must wear masks while entering and exiting the gym, as well as while working out if it’s safe to do so. Additionally, folks must remain six-feet-apart, workout stations must have 10 feet of space around them, and equipment must be cleaned between use.

According to the lawsuit, a DC resident reported in September that employees and clients at the Shaw gym were not practicing social distancing or appropriately wearing masks. The attorney general’s office alerted the gym of the report, and owner Graham King acknowledged that patrons hadn’t been complying with the mandate.

But in several subsequent visits by an investigator, patrons were seen entering and exiting the studio mask-less, according to the lawsuit, as well as working out on the sidewalk in front of the gym without masks or adequate social distancing. Additionally, the lawsuit says the gym erected an outdoor tent that did not provide adequate social distancing from passersby walking down the street, and that equipment in the tent was not cleaned between use. And when an investigator entered the gym, the front desk employee was mask-less, says the lawsuit, as were some people working out indoors.

The lawsuit also includes screenshots of posts from Urban Athletic Club’s public Instagram page, which are used as evidence that the group was not adhering to guidelines.

Screenshot via the Office of the Attorney General.
Screenshot via the Office of the Attorney General.
Screenshot via the Office of the Attorney General.

While the reports outlined in the lawsuit all took place at Urban Athletic Club’s Shaw location, the group operates two additional spots at the Line Hotel and the Kimpton Glover Park Hotel.

At the time of publication, Urban Athletic Club had not returned a request for comment.

Update: On December 16, Urban Athletic Club provided the following comment: 

“Since opening over seven years ago, Urban Athletic Club has repeatedly promoted health and fitness as the foundation to a long and prosperous life. We have offered free community classes and free trials, we have made countless donations of time and money to local charities, and we have grown from one location to four due to our commitment to our members.
“Like the Attorney General, we believe the health and safety of our community is of paramount importance and have voluntarily affirmed to the Attorney General that we intend to comply with the Mayor’s coronavirus orders, as has always been our intent.”

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Mimi Montgomery Washingtonian
Associate Editor

Mimi Montgomery joined Washingtonian in 2018. Her work has appeared in Outside Magazine, Washington City Paper, DCist, and PoPVille. Originally from North Carolina, she now lives in Petworth.