Selah gym responds to $9,600 fine by state, considers filing appeal

Anytime Fitness Selah Open

SELAH, Wash. — A local fitness gym fined for staying open in violation of the governor’s Safe Start order is disputing claims that it created unsafe working conditions for its employees.

Owner Wes Bradshaw said while the business has been in operation, he doesn’t agree with state inspectors’ claims that his staff and customers have been subject to “unacceptable risk of coronavirus exposure.”

“Our protocols of spraying COVID killing chemicals 6+ times daily, masking up, gloving up and social distancing are second to none,” Bradshaw said. “It would be very hard to find another business as clean as ours.”

Yakima County remains in Phase 1 of the governor’s Safe Start order, which prohibits fitness gyms from being open until Phase 3.  Anytime Fitness in Selah is the first business to be fined for operating in violation of the order.

In a news release from the state Department of Labor and Industries on Wednesday, state officials said the business was contacted multiple times before it was issued a $9,639 fine for noncompliance.

“In this case, Anytime Fitness Selah was clearly aware it was operating in defiance of the governor’s order and putting employees at risk,” L&I Director Joel Sacks said in the release.

The state received 13 citizen complaints between May and June about the gym selling new memberships, posting on social media that it was open and people using the gym without social distancing, the release said.

“In an email to the governor’s office, a Yakima Health District official said numerous community members were reporting that the fitness center was open and that a staff member drove by and saw the building was packed with customers,” the release said.

After contacting the business multiple times about closing, L&I inspectors came to the gym June 15 to inspect it and found, “several employees working, as well as customers entering and using the facility.”

Bradshaw created a fundraiser via GoFundMe on Wednesday to raise money for legal fees, which had raised $8,000 of its $10,000 goal as of Thursday afternoon.

“Our goal is not to simply remain in business for money, but for the community we serve,” Bradshaw said on his GoFundMe. “Without providing a safe and healthy atmosphere for our customers, we would not be here to begin with.”

Bradshaw said that being able to go to the gym helps customers stay healthier and that while being health won’t prevent someone from becoming infected with COVID-19, it may help people’s chances of recovering from the virus.

“During this time, there is no greater weapon against COVID-19 than an individuals healthy lifestyle,” Bradshaw said on his GoFundMe. “As a health business we find it necessary that our members have the ability to access our facility and continue to improve their physical and mental health.”

The business has until July 5 to close or they can choose to appeal the decision by the state.

“In response to the fine, we are given 15 business days to appeal which we are strongly considering, since we are a safe community asset in the fight against COVID providing a place for people to improve both their physical and mental health,” Bradshaw said.