Gym Owners Unite Against SafeKey Regulations

August 23, 2021

[Written by Don Burgess]

Some gym owners have unified to fight Government’s SafeKey regulations related to their businesses.

The group formed the Gym Coalition on Thursday evening, with Melanie Derosa and Karen Hodgkins acting as their representatives.

On Friday, Government’s new regulations meant that all gyms and fitness centers would require patrons to have SafeKey, which means a person would either have to be vaccinated or have a negative PCR test in the past three days. Some gyms say they will not adhere to the policy.

The Gym Coalition has written a letter to the Premier expressing their concerns.

Ms Derosa, who owns Ultimate Fitness, told Bernews the problem with the regulation is lumping gyms in with the restaurants and bars category.

“We operate differently. For us we have memberships. Our members pay ahead of time for a month, three months, six months or a year,” Ms Derosa said. “They come every day to do lifting or cardio. For them to get a Covid test every three days is not realistic.”

She said getting tested every three days is unwieldy with limited testing times.

Currently, appointments can be made only between 10am and 3pm at Bull’s Head Monday through Saturday, three days a week in Dockyard and St George’s twice a week. None of the days is on a Sunday. And that’s if you can get an appointment. Currently, the first available appointment for the centrally located Bull’s Head is for Monday, August 30, with people in Hamilton unlikely to spend a lunch hour driving down to St George or Dockyard to get tested.

Ms Derosa said, “That makes it impossible for people to get to the gym. People who come to the gym every day are expected to do that twice a week? It’s not reasonable.”

She said people who have paid their membership would not be able to enjoy what they have paid for, making it likely for customers to cancel it.

“Members won’t come back. The morning they [the Government] put it out there, we were inundated with calls with people saying their last day was tomorrow. Trainers were having people cancel on them. It was a mess. We were losing business; we were losing revenue.

Ms Derosa pointed out that her gym has not had any cases. All the other safety protocols are adhered to:

  • People mask up.
  • Equipment is sanitized after being used.
  • Contact tracing paperwork is filled out.
  • Social distancing is practiced.
  • Temperatures are checked.
  • There is a thorough cleaning at 2 pm.

Ms Derosa added that gyms are an essential part of people’s mental health by exercising out their stress.

“It is a very stressful time now, but they also come here for their physical and emotional health. Some people have high blood pressure and diabetes, and the gym helps in that respect. Still, some people come for rehabilitation, so it’s not just for the bodybuilder or the athlete.

“It’s important to keep the gyms open because that’s where people get their release.”

She applauded the Health Ministry for keeping Bermuda safe. Still, it would have been better if the Government had consulted with the gyms before instituting this policy rather than the gyms having to go to Government.

Evolutions Health and Fitness Center owner Quinita Francis said her clients were concerned about having SafeKey. “We have taken the stand like the other gyms in that we are not asking people to provide SafeKey.”

She said patrons would have to wear masks and obey other health protocols. “Because we have taken that stand, our members are comfortable with that. We haven’t had any people who have the SafeKey object.

“We have noticed that there has been a decrease in the number of people coming to the gym since SafeKey was announced as being required. SafeKey is like a deterrent for people to go indoors in any facility.”

She added it is challenging being a small business owner in this environment. Government “keeps seeming to target the gyms but haven’t told us whether there have been any outbreaks in the gyms. My personal opinion is the gym is one of the safest places to be due to the rigorous cleaning regime we as gym owners have implemented.”

She added when people are going to work in an office environment; there is no one coming behind workers to wipe down and clean copy machines and other office equipment immediately after they are used, which is the opposite of what happens in a gym.

Karen Hodgkins, the owner of Magnum Force Gym, said the policy “is not workable in a membership club. For large groups or parties, I can see SafeKey would work but not in gym facilities or membership clubs where people are coming on a daily basis.”

She also argued, like Ms Derosa, that gyms are a great place to help work out their mental health stress. “This is a healthy environment and you want people to be in the gym keeping healthy.”

She stated that the gym owners saw the press release about SafeKey but were not provided any advice from the Health Department about what they should do.

“What we do have is have our phones ringing off the hook with people calling to cancel their memberships asking for refunds.”

Ms Hodgkins said she avoided having people cancel because she told her staff it will be “business as usual” and they would be ignoring the SafeKey policy.

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Comments (24)

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  1. Micro says:

    People should go get vaccinated then. There’s the solution.

    • sandgrownan says:

      Exactly. No sympathy.

    • Phillip says:


      • Pointing out says:

        Considering all science shows vaccinated people transmit delta variant as much as unvaccinated then I guess you are right…. Let’s be real. It has nothing to do with public health but politics. Get more test which will drive our positive case ratio down and try to attract more tourists. Sad

    • DSS says:

      That’s not the answer. Most of you who are pushing the vaccine are nothing but bullies. We all have choices and understand they come with consequences. What this government and many others are doing it’s not logical. Keep thinking it’s about health. Look around the world and see this is not an isolated issue. The governments will continue to use fear to get the citizens to comply and be obedient. Today it’s this and tomorrow it will be another liberty at risk. Please look beyond this moment because I can assure you, you will be on the opposite side at some point in the future trying to push back or at least protect your freedom.

    • Micro is a idiot says:

      Micro is a idiot

    • dwbi says:

      spoken like a real sheep. You are the type of people that allow governments to get away with all kinds of stuff

  2. wahoo says:

    Hopefully the churches will lend their support.

  3. me says:

    what about chefs who work in 90degree+ kitchen temperatures and have to wear a mask ?

  4. I used to go to the gym, several to be exact. PEOPLE DO NOT wipe down the equipment after there are finished . THEY just walk away and onto the NEXT machine
    That is one reason I will no longer go to a gym. NOW for sure I will not go back to any gym.

    • Toodle-oo says:

      And has anyone else noticed how many salons and barbers don’t sterilize their equipment between clients ? eeew

  5. Itan Gast says:

    Do these gym owners understand that people who have had both vaccinations get a SafeKey as well? Clearly Ms Derosa does not, or is conveniently forgetting to mention it because it allows her to make her ‘stand’.

  6. Unbelievable says:

    I sincerely DOUBT that anyone has called her gym to cancel a membership. That’s just hyperbole for the sake of the argument. This is Bermuda and we love to talk a big game for sympathy. Oh please.

    Also, I go to the gym. I want to know that my gym is doing the right thing and being part of the SOLUTION. I was there Saturday and showed my safekey to the trainer. It took me all of 2 seconds.

    Stop being obtuse, Karen and do the right thing.

    • Bob says:

      Gyms are not essential and most of the exercises / machine work can be replicated in the home … Shut them down if they fail to comply … that’s neither insensitive nor indifferent… let common sense and common decency be the order of the day!!

  7. Unbelievable says:

    And another thing…

    “ She stated that the gym owners saw the press release about SafeKey but were not provided any advice from the Health Department about what they should do.”

    Are you serious? EVERYONE has a smartphone. Put the safekey on your phone and just present it to whoever. It takes no time to confirm that it’s a valid safekey. Stop playing dumb.

  8. Me says:

    All brawn and no brains as they say

  9. Phil says:

    So what happened with Magnum? Did the police shut it down and charge Ms. Hodgkins? Was expecting to see some reporting on that by now.

  10. Phillip says:

    Karen just comply and stop being stubborn it will get u nowhere

  11. The Goat says:

    Honestly…aint nobody REALLY dying round here

  12. Christine says:

    Its truly boggles my mind that we complain about testing. I do it every week. I dont wish to make anyone sick. Just look at the cases across the waters this will be us when people stop wearing masks. And are sick of taking testing. It going to be to late when our only hospital cant take no more and then your sent home to die like a dog. These gyms and anyone is playing russian rullette with the life of others. We dont pay for our test so get tested.

  13. Tt says:

    Geez everyone has an opinion, which is fine but for crying out loud if you don’t want to go gym don’t go gym. No one is forcing you to go gym or hair saloon. Those who want to go such as myself will go! If everyone takes responsibility for themselves we wouldn’t be in this position to begin with. Sure you said some people don’t wipe their gear off, so what! You wanna use the machine you clean it off before you use it as a precaution. It’s that simple. Coming on social media/media and bickering doesn’t solve anything and hiding at your home doesn’t either.

    If you wanna stay home and hide fine, not everyone has to do what you want. I am vaccinated and have safe key. Doesn’t make me better than anyone else. I’ll go gym with either. My personal responsibility is to safeguard myself by washing hands, sanitizing before and after, keeping distance from others. Follow the guidelines and also stop bickering. These people have businesses to run with staff to pay. Can’t shut everything down because of bickering. Start being responsible for yourselves.

  14. Joe Bloggs says:

    “We operate differently. For us we have memberships. Our members pay ahead of time for a month, three months, six months or a year,” Ms Derosa said”

    That sounds the same as belonging to BMDS or Mid-Ocean Club or the Dinghy Club to me. How is it different?

    • Unbelievable says:

      Isn’t that most gyms? :eyeball:

      Making it sound she’s unique.