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Gym holds protest workout to shine light on small-business plight

Updated May 19, 2020 - 8:28 am

Las Vegas gym operator Chad Cole said it’s time for small businesses to reopen in Nevada.

Cole, who co-owns CrossFit Apollo with his mother, Monica Cole, said their business has been struggling for the past couple of months. He said he doesn’t understand why some big businesses are allowed to reopen but their gym can’t, even with precautions.

“Why are we not allowed to open, but Target can?” Cole said. “There’s no explanation, and it doesn’t make any sense.”

Phase One of Gov. Steve Sisolak’s reopening plan began May 9, but gyms were not included. The current restrictions are expected to remain in place at least through May.

The gym, located at 6535 N. Buffalo Drive, hosted a public workout Monday evening, three days after the Coles had planned to reopen their doors. The workout lasted only four minutes, but Cole said it was meant more to make a statement than to make people sweat.

Monica Cole said she and her son had planned to reopen the gym Friday, but police officers showed up to their staff meeting the day before.

“Two detectives came in and immediately jumped on our case,” she said. “There were just a lot of threats, and it was very aggressive.”

Cole said it was especially frustrating because some of their members are in law enforcement and the gym hosts a fundraiser for the Metropolitan Police Department every year. Chad Cole said the fundraiser in March was the last workout before businesses had to shut down, so the gym was packed with law enforcement officials.

“We’ve done fundraiser after fundraiser for the last seven years for our police department,” he said. “And I’m not saying we’re looking for reciprocation; we’re looking for a mutual respect.”

Cole said he and his mother are trying to decide if they want to wait for the governor to say they can reopen or if they will risk their business license to reopen sooner.

“It’s a really hard decision to make,” Cole said. “We don’t know what to do.”

Kira Prince and Jenny Herrera said they’ve been members at CrossFit Apollo for six years and that they’d do anything to support the business.

Herrera said the gym has been active on social media, posting daily workouts on Instagram since the shutdown started in March.

“It’s been kind of fun to be able to do the workouts with my kids, but it’s just not the same,” Herrera said. “You don’t have the same motivation at home as you do at the gym.”

She said Monday night’s gathering felt like a family reunion. Prince said it felt like she’d been away from the gym for years.

“I just want to get back in here and get my endorphins going,” Prince said. “I don’t work out as well at home when my couch is right there.”

The Coles have implemented new safety protocols for when the gym reopens. Monica explained that they’ve taped off 7-by-7-foot squares with 2 feet between each for people to work out in, and they’ve adopted a new online reservation system to manage how many people are inside the gym at a given time.

According to a list posted on the window of the business, they also plan to wipe down the floor and the equipment after each use and maintain social distancing.

Kelly Gillen said it seems like CrossFit Apollo is the safest place to be right now.

“There’s almost no safer place to be in there, and you’re making yourself safe by being in there,” Gillen said. “You’re bettering yourself, you’re bettering the community by being healthy, and you’re supporting small businesses.”

Gillen said she’s been a member at the gym only since she moved to Las Vegas last August, but it immediately felt like home. She said she felt like she had a new family the second she walked through the doors.

“This place really is home,” Gillen said. “I just want to come home.”

Contact Alexis Egeland at aegeland@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0335. Follow @alexis_egeland on Twitter.

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