Local News

No doctor's note needed: Medical exception allows some gyms to open

Posted July 7, 2020 6:14 p.m. EDT
Updated July 7, 2020 9:49 p.m. EDT

Fitness19 in Cary had been closed for more than three months, until Tuesday. All the while, owner Josh Asheim was getting calls from members wondering when doors would open.

“Many of them have put weight on," he said. "They’ve been depressed. They've been waiting for us to open,” Asheim said.

Under the Governor’s executive order, which keeps gyms closed to limit the spread of coronavirus, there is an exception.

If a medical professional directs you to exercise, you can use the gym — no doctor’s note required. And gym employees are not allowed to ask you for proof.

“Whether it be asthma or therapy or weight loss, we can’t ask them what their purpose is to work out,” Asheim said.

So how do gym owners determine who’s actually going to the gym under doctors’ orders?

“I take their word for it," he said. "The people coming out now are the people who really need it."

Dr. Matthew St. Marie, a resident at UNC Hospitals is worried, though, that those who really need a gym for health reasons may be the ones at higher risk.

“If someone needs a rehab facility or needs to be in a gym, physically at least, what you find is that most people who would need that the most may be the people who may be at higher risk due to other underlying health risks, those people would be at higher risk going into the gym,” he said.

St. Marie says people who need the gym for mental or emotional support can try outdoor activities which would be much safer.

“There’s no research that shows that going into a gym itself is good for your mental health," St. Marie said. "You get socialization, but it’s not the only way one can get those benefits."

St. Marie suggests a workout at any place with ventilation and without cross contamination from other people. He suggests that those who must go to the gym stay 12 feet apart,wipe down equipment after each use and, of course, wear a mask.

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