coronavirus

COVID-19 Strikes 5 Top SoCal Gyms, Prompting Call for Disclosure of Cases

Members and trainers tell NBC4 I-Team they’re not being informed of possible danger.

NBC Universal, Inc.

Members and employees at five Southern California branches of Equinox Fitness Clubs have tested positive for COVID-19, but not all members have been told about the infections, according to company emails obtained by the NBC4 I-Team. 

"If they're not transparent, then people are going to be afraid to go back there. It's all about transparency," said longtime Equinox member Michael Rosenblum. 

He has worked out at several Equinox branches including Beverly Hills, where a member who was at the club June 20 and 22 has tested positive. 

Joel Grover reported on NBC4 News at 11 p.m. on Monday, June 29, 2020.

The I-Team also obtained company emails with details about COVID-19 infections at other locations:

  • Miracle Mile Equinox-employee "who worked throughout the club" on June 29, June 30, and July 1
  • Newport Beach Equinox-employee who worked "throughout the club" on June 17
  • Westlake Village Equinox-employee "who worked throughout the club"  June 21 and June 22 
  • West Hollywood Equinox-member with COVID-19 at club on June 26, was in Pilates Studio

At each location, according to company emails, Equinox only notified people who "were in the club around the same time."

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Members and trainers tell the I-Team, they think everyone who works out at the clubs should be notified. 

"They could create a mass spreading situation, where if they told people, they could take appropriate precautions" like getting tested, said member Rosenblum. 

Equinox says it disinfected the clubs three times after it learned of the infections, and is screening employees and members for symptoms. 

But in emails to the I-Team, an Equinox representative said the company "is not required to notify members of cases...we have notified members who may have been impacted by a positive case." 

Some members and trainers tell the I-Team everyone at a club should be notified, because the infection can spread far beyond the infection person. 

"Did they get it from somebody else in the gym, did he spread to other people, who then spread it to other people," said member Rosenblum, who has now frozen his membership at the gym. 

Also, starting today Equinox is requiring all members and employees to wear masks and gloves at all times in the gym.  

That new rule comes in the wake of an NBC4 I-Team report Tuesday, disclosing how the company allowed members to remove masks while vigorously exercising. 

After the I-Team report Tuesday, the Los Angeles County Public Health Department issued a new directive. 

"At fitness clubs, all clients and customers are required to wear cloth face coverings and gloves the entire time," said Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer. 

At numerous Equinox locations, trainers and instructors have told NBC4 they are still refusing to go to work.

"I don't understand why the state has again shutdown indoor dining at restaurants, but they're letting gyms stay open where people are exhaling and breathing all over each other," said one trainer at multiple Equinox locations, who asked NBC4 not to use his name for fear of being fired.

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