Health  |  News & Politics

DC Fitness Studios and Gyms Want to Require Proof of Vaccination, Not Masks

"Clients are put off by the idea of working out with a mask."

The DC Fitness Alliance, a cohort of local gyms and fitness studios, sent a letter to Mayor Muriel Bowser and DC Health director LaQuandra Nesbitt requesting an exemption from the indoor mask mandate. Instead, the coalition wants to require proof of vaccination, with “strict documentation checks.”

Signed by 16 studios, the appeal is in response to last week’s mask order requiring face coverings inside restaurants, gyms, and museums. Among the signers is Solidcore, the boutique fitness studio that temporarily closed after openly defying the mayor’s restrictions on indoor workout classes last fall.

“Our businesses are disproportionately impacted by mask mandates, as clients are put off by the idea of working out with a mask, potentially limiting their ability to breathe easily while they do physical activity,” the letter asserts.

At a press conference on Tuesday, Bowser was non-committal when asked about instituting a vaccination requirement at locations such as gyms. (Earlier that day, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced proof of vaccination would be required at many venues in his jurisdiction). The letter’s signers pointed out discrepancies in the current mask mandate across indoor locations, specifically bars and restaurants.

“For example, it seems counterintuitive for our clients who on a Saturday night can stand literal inches away from other individuals in a crowded bar with a drink in their hand without a mask on, but who on Monday morning – even in a fully vaccinated fitness class or gym – are required to exercise with a mask on,” notes the letter.

This isn’t the first time the fitness industry has made comparisons to their hospitality counterparts. When the mayor announced the restriction on indoor workout classes last year, some studio owners expressed confusion regarding the perceived double standard—if indoor dining was safe enough to remain operational, why wasn’t indoor exercise? Precautions prohibiting indoor fitness classes were later peeled back in March, albeit with capacity limits in place

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Daniella Byck
Assistant Editor

Daniella Byck joined Washingtonian in August 2018. She is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she studied journalism and digital culture.