Coronavirus: Florida protesters mocked for working out on street to get gyms to reopen

A group of protesters have been ridiculed online for working out on a footpath in a demonstration aiming to reopen gyms.

Over 30 people gathered outside the Pinellas County courthouse in Florida on Monday to protest a statewide order which closed gyms and other public facilities in March due to coronavirus.

The protest has since gone viral, but attention is now focused on how the protesters did push-ups and lunges which don't require a gym.

"My US Army drill sergeant would have a field day with the form and technique of some of these protesters’ supposed push-ups and squats. Also, they look like they can get a workout just fine without going to a gym which kinda kills the whole point of the protest,"  actor John Rocha tweeted.

"There's a disconnect when you protest opening gyms by literally doing a workout routine on the sidewalk without a gym," another wrote.

A user tweeted: "Lmao did you guys even think this protest through?"

Organiser and gym owner Travis LaBazzo has told BuzzFeed News he now regrets the protest.

"I'm glad it got out there, but it completely lost the message," LaBazzo says. 

"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."

He says he is not normally involved in demonstrations but was frustrated by the uncertainty around the lockdown rules and wanted to help businesses which were struggling.

"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," he said.

"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."

On Friday, while attending another protest, LaBazzo told Channel News 8 he believes gyms can open safely.

"We would operate just as we were when we closed, following CDC guidelines, we would operate at 50 percent capacity, my employees we're constantly cleaning the equipment." 

He says being closed is impacting the business and he wants to reopen to bring some normalcy back into his life.

"I have to hear from my employees. So no one was getting paid. I have to have my employees say, 'I can’t feed my kids, I can't pay my rent, my mental health is deteriorating'. 

"I'm going to have to deal with all that and then members reach out to me crying, [saying] 'Please open up, I need my place, I need my sanity back'."

There are over 1.3 million cases of COVID-19 in the United States and 80,000 people have died.