Graham gym reopens in defiance of state order

GRAHAM, Wash. — Michael Knick took to Facebook to tell followers he was reopening his gym, Graham Fitness, to the public, saying he faces tens of thousands of dollars in debt and the possible loss of his business.

“Basically I opened up the gym because I’m between a rock and a hard place. Don’t really have a choice,” Knick told his followers.

Like a lot of small business owners, Knick was forced to close the doors at Graham Fitness in March because of Gov. Jay Inslee's statewide order shutting downnonessential businesses as COVID-19 swept through the state. The gym reopened this week in defiance of that order but not without added safety measures, including a sign posted outside telling members there was limited capacity and that they would be required to sign a waiver before coming in.

“I got cleaning stations all over the place. Everybody is required to wipe down [exercise machines] before and after. Everyone is getting their temperature checked,” Knick said in the video, adding returning to the facility should be a personal choice. “If you got someone living with you that’s at risk, probably stay home. Don’t come to the gym.”

Knick joined a small crowd Thursday rallying in Olympia as gubernatorial candidate Tim Eyman filed a lawsuit to end the governor's lockdown order.

In his Facebook post, Knick acknowledged he may not be able to keep the gym open for long.

“We’ll get shut down pretty quick. I’m surprised they haven’t shown up already. We’ll probably get a cease and desist,” Knick said. “I’m not going down without one last-ditch effort to keep this thing alive. Once they shut us down, they shut us down.”

Calls to Graham Fitness for comment were not returned.