Mountainside Fitness CEO vows to reopen after legal setback — again

Aug 18, 2020, 1:00 PM | Updated: 2:45 pm

(Facebook Photo/Mountainside Fitness)...

(Facebook Photo/Mountainside Fitness)

(Facebook Photo/Mountainside Fitness)

PHOENIX – A day after receiving another legal setback, the CEO of Mountainside Fitness vowed to open his metro Phoenix gym chain in the next week.

“At the end of the day, one way or another, we’re going to be opening in the next seven days,” Tom Hatten told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show on Tuesday.

On Monday, a Maricopa County Superior Court judge rejected a motion of contempt filed against Gov. Doug Ducey in Mountainside’s lawsuit over the state-ordered closure of gyms and other businesses considered high risk for spreading COVID-19.

Judge Timothy Thomason ruled that the state COVID-19 benchmarks and appeals process released last week met the order he issued for Ducey to provide gyms with a way to apply for reopening.

“There is a process in place,” the ruling says. “Fitness centers are taking advantage of the process, some of them successfully. Mountainside has not even given the process a chance to work.”

Tuesday wasn’t the first time Hatten and Mountainside have publicly announced intentions to reopen after a court ruling upheld the heart of Ducey’s executive order to close indoor gyms, bars/nightclubs, indoor theaters, water parks and tubing.

But Mountainside’s 18 Valley locations have remain closed and the chain continued pursuing its legal challenge of the order, which was issued June 29 as coronavirus cases skyrocketed across the state.

Meanwhile, the EOS Fitness chain has successfully applied for reopening under the state’s appeals process.

A business impacted by the executive order can resume operations ahead of the benchmarks being met if it proposes a stringent individualized COVID-19 mitigation plan and receives Arizona Department of Health Services approval.

The state-approved EOS plan includes, among other things, requiring guests to make reservations up to 24 hours in advance and limiting occupancy to 10% of capacity.

Hatten said Mountainside won’t propose a similar plan.

“To open at not just 10%, but to only 10% of capacity … no group fitness classes and no child care, for us, our model … isn’t sustainable,” he said.

The legal wrangling might not matter by next week.

If COVID-19 trends continue, Maricopa County could meet the benchmarks to reach the reopening stage before the end of August.

Every Thursday, the state health department updates the data for the three metrics used to determine if businesses can reopen.

When a county meets the moderate spread benchmarks in all three metrics for at least the previous two weeks, businesses can reopen as long as they’ve submitted an attestation form to the state and displayed it in a prominent location at the venue.

In the most recent data, Maricopa County meets one moderate benchmark — percentage of hospital visits for COVID-like illnesses. But it was just outside the moderate range in cases per 100,000 residents and percentage positivity of COVID-19 diagnostic testing.

With cases and positivity rates declining statewide, there’s a good chance Maricopa County will be fully in the moderate range after the Aug. 27 data update.

Under the state’s requirements, indoor gyms in moderate spread counties can open at 25% percent capacity. They must also follow detailed guidelines designed to keep COVID-19 from spreading, including requiring guests to wear face coverings and keep 6 feet away from others.

The gym capacity restriction increases to 50% in counties meeting the minimal spread benchmarks for two weeks in all three metrics.

Mountainside defied Ducey’s closure executive order at first and reopened for about a week until its injunction motion was rejected July 6.

The chain filed another injunction request Aug. 3. The judge ruled the next day that gyms still couldn’t open, but Ducey was ordered to give them a way to apply for reopening within a week.

Mountainside told members after that ruling it would reopen the following week, but that never materialized.

Ducey lost his challenge to the order but didn’t object when it was denied because the judge’s ruling clarified that the closure order remained valid.

On Aug. 10, the state released its complex reopening requirements with the benchmarks and appeals process. That plan was cited Monday when Thomason ruled against Mountainside again.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

Insomnia in the summer may be due to Arizona heat, doctor says...

Serena O'Sullivan

Struggling with insomnia? Arizona summer heat may be to blame, sleep expert says

Arizonans who are dealing with insomnia in the summer months can blame the heat, according to a sleep expert with Banner Health.

3 hours ago

The Maricopa County Recorder’s Office website is now offering a virtual tour of the Maricopa Coun...

Maricopa County Recorder’s Office website offers self-guided virtual tour of elections center

The Maricopa County Recorder's Office website is now offering a virtual tour of the downtown Phoenix elections center.

3 hours ago

Desert tortoises: Do not disturb, AZGFD warns the public...

Wildlife officials warn against disturbing wild desert tortoises

The Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) urges the public to keep desert tortoises wild.

3 hours ago

Banner Imaging and HeartFlow are collaborating to offer a new program to help new patients detect c...

Banner selected to test Medicare dementia care model

The model will work to increase care coordination and improve access to services and supports, which includes respite care, people living with dementia and their caregivers.

3 hours ago


Police investigating fatal overnight hit-and-run in central Phoenix

Phoenix PD responded to the area of 19th Avenue and Van Buren Street regarding a collision that involved a pedestrian.

11 hours ago

Pickleball paddle with ball laying on court...

Payne Moses

Chandler progressing toward construction of pickleball, tennis courts at Tumbleweed Park

Chandler City Council approved a construction services agreement to ignite a pickleball and tennis court project at Tumbleweed Park, the town entity recently announced.

12 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinic visits boost student training & community health

Going to a Midwestern University Clinic can help make you feel good in more ways than one.


Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Beat the heat, ensure your AC unit is summer-ready

With temperatures starting to rise across the Valley, now is a great time to be sure your AC unit is ready to withstand the sweltering summer heat.


Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.

Mountainside Fitness CEO vows to reopen after legal setback — again