ST. PAUL, MN -- Despite a Minnesota judge’s ruling to uphold the city of St. Paul’s decision to fine two Anytime Fitness franchisees for violating a city safety standard, Anytime Fitness is working with the St. Paul mayor’s office to change the language of the standard.
Earlier this year, two St. Paul Anytime Fitness franchisees were each fined $500 because they did not have CPR-trained staff members on the premises around the clock at the 24-hour key-card clubs. The franchise owners argued that they met the city’s standard, saying they have workers who can be reached by phone at all times. The clubs also have panic buttons and cameras capable of being monitored remotely.
The city’s ordinance, established in the 1980s as a way to crack down on prostitution posing as massage parlors or health clubs, states: “At least one employee or manager trained and qualified in first aid and CPR according to standards established by rule by the Department of Safety and Inspections shall be on duty at all times that the licensed premises are in operation are open to members of the public. Such standards shall be in conformity with the standards and guidelines established by the American Red Cross with respect to water safety instructors or by the American Heart Association for similar purposes.”
On Friday, Minnesota Administrative Law Judge Beverly Jones Heydinger ruled in favor of the city of St. Paul.
Mark Daly, the national media director for Anytime Fitness, says St. Paul is the only city among the 700 communities that has an Anytime Fitness club that has this type of law.
“There are fitness facilities in finer hotels and condos in St. Paul which are not staffed 24 hours a day where residents or guests are allowed to use the fitness facilities,” Daly says. “We think the law is being applied unequally.”
Daly adds that Anytime Fitness is working with the mayor’s office to come up with new language for the ordinance to ensure public safety and allow St. Paul citizens to work out at Anytime Fitness clubs whenever they like.
The city’s Department of Safety and Inspections is in the process of formulating language that would allow the clubs to operate as they always have, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. The draft language, obtained by the newspaper, shows requirements ranging from staffing gyms at least eight hours a day to offering free CPR certification to members to having panic buttons that notify a security company with video access to the gym.
In addition to a panic button on the wall, Daly says that all Anytime Fitness owners are strongly recommended to have AEDs in the clubs, but not all of the clubs have one. Also, most Anytime Fitness clubs have a staff member in the club from around 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., Daly adds.
As of this morning, 89 percent of the 343 votes in a poll on the St. Paul Pioneer Press Web site were in favor of St. Paul relaxing its standard.
“We’re like the only city anywhere that doesn’t allow these things,” St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman tells the Pioneer Press. “It can’t be OK everywhere else and be somehow more risky in St. Paul.”
A majority vote of the seven-person St. Paul city council would be needed to change the ordinance. Dave Thune, one of the city council members, is in favor of having a staff member in the club at all times.
“Let them try to get four votes,” Thune tells the Pioneer Press. “If they want to fight on this thing, I will get neighborhood groups and district councils who have suffered at the hands of adult bookstores to fight back.”