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Some Washington gyms are skirting COVID-19 restrictions, becoming ‘wellness centers’

The business formerly known as North Park Athletic Club in Spokane has rebranded itself as a "wellness center."

SPOKANE, Wash. — Gyms are one of many businesses that have changed operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

They’re not allowed to be open under Washington’s current coronavirus restrictions and it’ll remain that way until 2021. With restrictions still in place through Jan. 4, some are trying to work around those guidelines.

“For us as an organization, we don’t believe in standing still,” said the owner of Wellness Center at North Park, Joel Tampien. “We understand the importance of what we provide for our community.”

The newly rebranded center in Spokane says it has completely changed how the business is run. Instead of shutting doors, they believe what they offer is part of the solution for overcoming health problems like depression and fatigue from quarantining. 

Shortly after new protocols began, the ownership group met to discuss what their next move would be. Their collective decision was transforming into a wellness center.

“It’s not just a fitness and exercise facility, it’s a one-stop shop for all things wellness,” Tampien explained. 

RELATED: Washington's COVID-19 restrictions on indoor dining and gyms extended to Jan. 4

The group has hired new staff to assist with their mission of staying open. Physical, massage and stretch therapists have all been brought in to assist with that goal.

“I think getting out and being able to take care of your health is super important,” said member Shannon Armstrong while walking into the wellness center.

Governor Inslee's office said it is aware of re-brands happening throughout the state. Each situation will be monitored differently depending on whether a business is breaking the law or abiding by the current protocols, spokesperson Tara Lee said. 

Gyms that have made the switch must showcase proper adjustments and prove their compliance with the state, Lee added. Changing the gym's name without any proper adjustments to operations won’t be allowed but the consequences are unclear.

“I would say for the most part that our members have been very gracious in helping us to comply with a lot of those things,” Tampien said.

The wellness center will closely monitor changing guidelines over the next few weeks, he added.