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24-Hour Fitness Accused of Ignoring COVID Safety Rules

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Exercise-deprived San Franciscans were thrilled when gyms were finally permitted to reopen for indoor operations. The city was clear that indoor workout facilities would be limited to 10 percent capacity, required use of masks and would be subject to strict social distancing and sanitation practices to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

However, risk prevention does nothing to protect people if guidelines are being shirked, which is what one man claims is happening at the 24-Hour Fitness on Van Ness Avenue.

The guidelines are posted around the gym, but according to an emailed statement, several gym members have signed a “mask exemption attestation” and are only being required to wear face shields. According to the source, it appears anyone who refuses to wear a mask is asked to complete an exemption form. 

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The concerned member also tells us several people with masks are not wearing them appropriately — positioned below their noses or on their chins — and are not observing the 6-foot and 12-foot distancing rules. In addition, he claims the 5-minute periods between machine use is not sufficient for management to fully sanitize equipment, leaving members responsible for wiping things down. 

A couple of weeks ago, the man asked another member inside the gym to mask up in what he says was a “polite” tone. The response was alarming. According to his statement, he was yelled at and told to “take it outside” even as he approached the front desk for help. The same man allegedly hovered over him later as he stretched and demanded to know why the lack of mask unnerved him. 

In a separate incident just Tuesday morning, our source said he asked another man with a mask on his chin to pull up the face covering as he grabbed paper towels to wipe down a machine. He was told:

“I’m not going to pass out because you want to virtue signal.” 

The San Francisco Department of Public Health issued guidance for safe reopening of indoor gyms, last updated Sept. 16. According to the guidance:

“All patrons MUST wear face coverings AT ALL TIMES while in the gym and/or fitness center except while hydrating with normal breathing.”

Nowhere in the published guidance is there reference to mask exemptions.

COVID-19 safety poster for indoor gym operations, as published by City and County of San Francisco, Calif.

Further, the guidance details and the signage required to be posted reiterates that patrons and employees must wash or sanitize hands prior to entering the facility and before and after use of shared equipment. Full sanitation cleaning is supposed to occur between each use with disinfectant spray, wipes and non-touch trash bins made available in convenient locations. Six-foot distancing is required at a minimum, but a 12-foot space is mandated near others while exercising. 

Our source says he’s spoken to gym management, contacted corporate offices and called 311 twice to voice his concerns; however, the risky practices continue. He has not been offered a refund for his membership in any of those conversations, but as a member of that specific gym for more than a decade, he’d prefer to be able safely work out. 

We contacted the 24-Hour Fitness facility at 1200 Van Ness Avenue and were told by an employee who identified himself as Danny that masks are being enforced, but that exemptions have been granted. He declined to elaborate on how the need for exemptions are evaluated. When pressed for more specific information, we were referred to the media contact. As of publication, we’re still waiting on those answers and a statement from the media representative.    

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Nik Wojcik - East Bay Editor

Nik Wojcik - East Bay Editor

Journalist, editor, student, single mom to a pack of wolves, foodie, music lover, resident smart ass, and champion of vulgarity and human kindness.

1 Comment

  1. anon
    October 22, 2020 at 10:42 pm

    There is no such thing as a medical exemption for wearing a mask; if you really can’t wear one, you shouldn’t be at the gym.