With all due respect Alabama, “Safer at Home” is another way of saying, “Suffer more small businesses of Alabama, especially those that will experience the greatest detriment to theisurvival. We hope you make it.”
I am a small business owner who is the epitome of an Alabama citizen trying to do his part for the development, success, and well-being of his community. As with any small business owner across America, the Alabama “Stay at Home” and now “Safer at Home” orders placed myself and my business, Godspeed, in a situation where my personal finances were (and even more now are) jeopardized undermining my ability to keep my staff employed, threatening me and my business to have to step away from the American dream, and forcing my community to lose an integral part of their life that assures their welfare.
You have classified Godspeed as a Higher-risk business and activity, which mandates us to remain closed to non-employees or ‘not to take place’ until May 15. Again, I am placed in a new and now prolonged difficult personal, financial, and social predicament by this seemingly arbitrary new Order that alienates one industry that is fundamental to the physical and mental health as well as the vitality of our state and all of its citizens. Notably, we must put our preparations, our business, and our livelihoods on hold, again, until, most likely, less than two days before May 15, when you might amend this current order. I suspect that it is because you believe businesses like fitness gyms and studios would have difficulty in practicing cleanliness compliant with the CDC and/or social/physical distancing. Yet, retail stores in which the manager, supervisor, or owner cannot practically guarantee either of the two aforementioned are able to operate and generate income for their business and for Alabama. I respectfully disagree and urge you to reconsider by allowing my business, Godspeed, to operate under this new Order.
We are not in the same boat, and it is offensive that all athletic activities are considered one in the same to you. We may be in the same storm, but we are not in the same boat. I have not built Godspeed to be in the same boat. We thrive on differentiating ourselves from others not only in our specific industry, but for any business. In fact, as a response to the Alabama State of Emergency on March 13 as well as the Stay-At-Home order effectuated on April 4, my company has worked tirelessly to find creative ways to serve our community and to stay in business; and when the Stay-At-Home order was lifted, to assure we are taking every proactive and protective measure to stay compliant with any rules, regulations, and guidelines of both our state and federal governments. To safeguard our employees, our members, and any individual in our facilities, our team is trained on the protective measures outlined in the Reopen Alabama Responsibly Phase One Report and recommended by the CDC guidelines on cleanliness and social distancing best practices. Additionally, by specific design, I have invested in and built facilities that can easily, purposefully and deliberately guarantee social and physical distancing unlike most gyms or athletic facilities or the local retail store where an aisle is not even six feet wide. Our business model for operation, controls the numbers in attendance and the scheduled times for all participants in on-site activities. Each of us and our businesses, will emerge, in our own way, from this storm. It is very important to see beyond what is seen at first glance. Not just looking, actually experiencing. Godspeed is like no other. We are all different ships during this storm experiencing a very different journey. If you want to see how my ship sails through this storm, then give me the opportunity. I have built Godspeed to be different and to be necessary. Do not keep me at bay.
Godspeed has worked tirelessly to ensure that we were at the forefront of innovation and advancement to still serve our communities and to still have a positive impact on our state’s prosperity and economy through these trying times. We have much gratitude for our current business and those we serve; however, this perpetual prevention of normal operations is detrimental to the growth of our business, and at this point, to ensuring our business will be able to exist post-pandemic response. To review, it will be 63 days of truncated operations if we cannot open our doors until May 15. Godspeed is a personally owned business and is not financially backed by a large corporate conglomerate. In fact, even if we were, any business would have an incredibly difficult time recovering let alone surviving after having more than 17% of their fiscal year censored.
Quoted from your Alabama Small Business Emergency Task Force: “Exercise is important to the physical and mental health of many Alabama citizens.” Multiple studies from top medical researchers representing leading medical training and research programs (e.g., University of Virginia, University of Michigan, and even our own University of Alabama Birmingham) urge individuals to exercise for our mental and physical health to combat COVID-19 physiologically and psychologically. Exercise strengthens our immune systems, it slows down the release of stress hormones, and it allows the human body to naturally fight and prevent diseases like COVID-19. In fact, the primary risk factors for COVID-19, obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and hypertension (which together are often referred to as metabolic syndrome), are significantly mitigated by regular exercise. By continuing to handcuff the fitness industry in Alabama, you are disallowing our citizens to implement fitness back in their routines, and even worse, damaging an individual’s health and well-being. Ultimately, limiting exercise, can induce a higher rate of morbidity and mortality. Our communities view us as a beacon of light that not only relieves the stressors during these unsettling times, but also gives them an essential part of being human, community and camaraderie. We cannot live in isolation forever. We cannot exercise in isolation forever for our sake and for humanity’s sake.
This announcement is not to defy or rebel. I am here to give perspective and notice. We are going through a time when our perceptions and needs are completely different. Godspeed is not a higher-risk business or activity; but rather, we are on the other side of the spectrum due to our preparation, diligence, and innovation. I invite you or one of your designees to visit our Hoover or Huntsville locations and let me show you. For the many small businesses across this great state, I urge you to include fitness gyms and studios into your plans to revitalize our economy, our citizens, and our Alabama, as long as we are able to be and remain in compliance. For our sake, I hope your decision does not extinguish the fuel to promote health and fitness because a lifelong battle against health problems and diseases is just as important as the current, and likely limited battle against COVID-19. For my staff and my own sake, let my company open so that I can pour back into the economy and the state that helped make me who I am the best way I know how.