Club 24

Vehicles were parked at the Club 24 location in Hermiston on Nov. 22, 2020, before the location shut down a few days later at the request of OSHA.

HERMISTON — Club 24’s Oregon locations and the Hermiston Athletic Club are closed at the request of Oregon’s Occupational Health and Safety Administration.

The locations, where people sign up for a monthly membership in exchange for use of workout equipment, fitness classes and other exercise, initially stated they were staying open as “wellness centers” after Gov. Kate Brown initially ordered gyms and fitness centers to close as part of the state’s latest COVID-19 restrictions. But on Nov. 30, Club 24’s Oregon locations and Hermiston Athletic Club posted identical messages to their Facebook pages, stating they would close effective immediately “as per Oregon OSHA.”

The message stated that member accounts would be frozen and staff would be furloughed during the holidays as a result.

In response to a public records request from the East Oregonian, OSHA responded that there had not been fines or other official enforcement actions taken against the businesses because the owner had voluntarily complied with shutting down after being contacted by OSHA.

Customers reacted with disappointment on social media at the announcement. In an email to the EO, Hermiston Club 24 member Chris Waine said he joined Club 24 about 15 years ago after exiting the military. His membership helped him transition back into civilian life and work through physical injuries he suffered as a result of his service, he said.

“Over these years, I came to understand many members suffer from past physical injury,” he said. “It would not be untrue to say that a large majority of people go because motion begets motion. Over the years, we’ve motivated each other and offered words of encouragement as we struggle to find balance in pain management through fitness.

“In other words, the state views these facilities as recreational. They failed to realize these facilities provide a place and equipment for those of us who graduate from out patient physical therapy. These facilities are as much a necessity as any outpatient physical therapy clinic. Let’s not forget also the mental benefit of physical fitness.”

In an emailed statement, Club 24 said they complied with OSHA’s request in order to avoid “crippling fines” as they appeal OSHA’s decision.

“We are confident that we are meeting, if not surpassing, the safety measures of clubs in this study and look forward to working with OSHA and the State of Oregon on safely and responsibly operating our business that so many Oregonians are dependent upon for their physical and mental health,” the statement said, adding they appreciate members who have offered to keep paying their dues in order to support the employees being furloughed.

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