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Florida Guy Regrets Organising Push-Up Protests Over Coronavirus Gym Closures

by : Niamh Shackleton on : 12 May 2020 17:51
Florida Guy Regrets Organising Push-Up Protests Over Coronavirus Gym ClosuresFlorida Guy Regrets Organising Push-Up Protests Over Coronavirus Gym ClosuresTwitter: Facebook: OpenTampaBay/WFLA News

Travis LaBazzo, the guy who organised a push-up protest with the aim of getting gyms in Florida reopened, says he now regrets it as it ‘completely lost the message’.

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He was hoping his small protest, which began yesterday, May 11, would attract national attention, and while it has done, it’s not quite in the way he wanted.

LaBazzo is the CEO of Amped Fitness and owns a handful of gyms across Florida – all of which are closed due to the ongoing pandemic.

In the hope of getting small businesses like his that were deemed ‘nonessential’ reopened, he gathered together a group of people to protest outside the Pinellas County courthouse.

ProtestProtest@tlabazzo/Instagram
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Noticing the protest was being filmed from a news helicopter, LaBazzo got the group to start doing push-ups and squats. When WFLA News shared its coverage of the protest on Twitter, a lot of people had something to say about it.

As noted by people across social media, by having people perform exercises on the street that they’d normally do in a gym, it demonstrated that you don’t need access to a gym to be able to exercise.

One Twitter user commented:

IF YOU CAN DO SQUATS AND PUSH UPS ON THE SIDEWALK, YOU CAN DO THEM IN YOUR LIVING ROOM AND DON’T NEED TO BE AT THE GYM, YOU ABSOLUTE DING DONGS.

Another user replied, ‘Protestors call for gyms to reopen by… proving they don’t need gyms?’ – and they have a point.

Someone else tweeted in agreement, ‘Pretty cool to demonstrate that you don’t need a gym to exercise.’

Another Twitter user added, ‘Will any of these dopes suddenly realize that they can work out at home or’.

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Discussing the protest and the social media reaction, LaBazzo told Buzzfeed News:

I’m glad it got out there, but it completely lost the message. People out there saying, ‘You just proved you don’t need the gym,’ but it’s not about that. It’s about thousands of employees that are out of work in Florida.

LabezzoLabezzo@tlabazzo/Instagram

He also recognised that exercising for the cameras wasn’t the best idea, and said he accepts the criticism. To LaBazzo, however, it wasn’t about opening the gyms; it was about struggling local businesses.

He said:

If you’re [supportive] of going back to work, you automatically are told you want to get people sick, and that’s not fair that there is no grey area in this thing.

LaBazzo did consider opening his gyms anyway, even taking to Instagram to ask his 7,000+ followers for their thoughts.

Despite many people telling him to reopen his gyms, he ultimately decided against it.

LaBazzo had organised the protest in response to a lack of clarity regarding the potential reopening of smaller businesses.

A task force formed by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis had considered reopening businesses like gyms and barbers during phase one of their plans to ease up on the state’s lockdown, but was later changed to introducing the reopening of them in phase two instead.

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LaBazzo added:

I did what we were supposed to do until he [Gov. DeSantis] made this announcement.One side says one thing, the other says another. All of this makes no sense.

Why are we not allowed to open up, but you’re allowed to go to Walmart, or a Home Depot.

We’re very much a necessity for a lot of these people and yet we’re being left out. I mean, we’ve had strip clubs that stayed open after gyms closed.

While there seems to be a lot of confusion over what’s classed as ‘essential’ – one thing I’m sure we can all agree is essential is that we fight the pandemic together.

It’s okay to not panic about everything going on in the world right now. LADbible and UNILAD’s aim with our campaign, Cutting Through, is to provide our community with facts and stories from the people who are either qualified to comment or have experienced first-hand the situation we’re facing. For more information from the World Health Organization, click here.

Niamh Shackleton

Niamh Shackleton is a pint sized person and journalist at UNILAD. After studying Multimedia Journalism at the University of Salford, she did a year at Caters News Agency as a features writer in Birmingham before deciding that Manchester is (arguably) one of the best places in the world, and therefore moved back up north. She's also UNILAD's unofficial crazy animal lady.

Topics: Life, Coronavirus, Florida, Gyms, LaBazzo, Local Businesses, Pandemic, Push Up Protests

Credits

WFLA News/Twitter and 1 other
  1. WFLA News/Twitter

    @WFLA

  2. Buzzfeed News

    People Did Push-Ups On The Street In Protest Of Coronavirus Gym Closures. The Guy Who Organized It Wishes They Hadn't.