Sterling Heights gymnastics coach pleads with governor: help us or let us open

Gymnastics centers are still unable to open in Michigan because of COVID-19 concerns under the governor's order.

The owners of one gym in Macomb County shares with us that, meanwhile, they've seen bills pile up into the hundreds of thousands - and he wants to know what Gov. Whitmer's plan is. 

"We want to work. We want to work with these kids, they need it and the staff theirself, they need to get back to work to support their family," said Sterling Gymnastics Academy owner Joe Newport. But he and Alycia Newport have their own family to consider, too. 

They are coaches who opened this gym in Sterling Heights five years ago and are now struggling to balance their finances in hopes of getting kids back on the balance beam soon. They've gone from no debt to a lot just to keep the utilities on and the rent paid.

"Now, obviously, with COVID and being shut down for almost six months now we've had to take out about $300,000 worth of loans," Newport said. 

Joe says they have 35 staff members at two different sites struggling to feed their families and so many kids, young athletes missing out on training with some getting ready to try for college scholarships who can't even practice.

"We're just looking for a date. Give us a date when we can open. Tell us the policies and procedures that we need to put in place to keep these athletes safe," Newport said.

Joe says they'll follow any guidelines from the state but he contended gymnastics already lends itself to social distancing. Meanwhile, they've been keeping up practices with some students. 

They're already checking temperatures with a new thermal imaging system and have the requisite hand sanitizer, plus marks on the mats to keep people six feet apart as well as cameras so that parents can watch practice remotely limiting the number of people inside.

Joe even wrote a letter to the governor asking that the state at least help cover some of their expenses if they're not going to allow people to run their businesses.

"Help us out or let us open. Give us the guidelines and a date."

A spokesperson for the governor tells FOX 2 they are working on this but have nothing new right now, leaving this business and many others waiting and hanging in the balance.