O2 Fitness president claims new data shows gyms, fitness clubs are not spreading COVID-19

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- In a Monday morning email, members of O2 Fitness received an email with the subject line: NEW REPORTS & DATA SHOW THAT GYMS ARE ESSENTIAL.

Members were told in the email, "In some cases, what dominated headlines four months ago has already been debunked while new information is not getting the same attention."



The new information the email references is related to three key points outlined in the email.

"It just hurts when you walk in (the gym) and see it completely empty," said O2 president Doug Warf in an exclusive interview with ABC11. "You just walk in and want to cry."

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The company operates 16 club locations across North Carolina in Guilford County, Wake County, Orange County, Durham County and New Hanover County. They also operate five locations in Charleston, South Carolina -- which have been open since mid-May.

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"I think we're still a little frustrated to be in this phase," said Warf of his North Carolina locations. "We feel like not only our we safe enough to open, we can help the community by reopening as well."



"There's assumptions that are made in March and April that aren't true today," Warf said.

According to Warf, the South Carolina locations have seen over 75,000 individual member check-ins without a single case spread in the facility.
Additionally, the club cited recent data from fitness industry leader, MXM, that showed out of more than 49.5 million check-ins at gym across the U.S. through Aug. 5, there were only 1,155 positive COVID-19 cases representing a virus-to-check-in ratio of 0.002 percent.

Furthermore, O2 included data from a New York Times article that reported gyms in Norway have been avoiding the coronavirus since their reopening in June under "less stringent" guidelines than O2.

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Warf believes if health officials toured his gyms, they would see for themselves how safe and responsible the reopening is being handled.

"I think if we're watching things and tracking things like I do on a daily basis," Warf said. "I think there's evidence to support us opening on September 11."

On that date, Gov. Roy Cooper is set to announce if North Carolina will move ahead and into phase three. Warf isn't holding his breath.

"We've had the rug pulled out from under us three or four times now," said Warf. "So I don't get too hopeful."
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