Good morning, my name is Levi Kirk; I am owner of Renewed Strength CrossFit, in Midland.  I understand you all have a very tough and difficult decision to make regarding the facemask mandate.  I do not envy your positions and I pray for you all, as you go through this process and make your decision.  Being a gym owner for over 10 years, I would like to weigh in on the situation.  It is not my intent to argue about this decision, rather I would like to bring light on the topic you and others around the country are being faced with.   

              The hospitals in Midland, are at capacity and I know that is not an ideal situation for our health staff.  I also sympathize for all our hard-working healthcare workers as this pandemic continues. I believe our hospitals, doctors, nurses, and all other health care professionals are the ultimate line of defense for this country.  They have been working long hard hours and are understandably worn out. That being said, I believe the fitness industry is America’s ultimate line of offense.  America is by far one of the most unhealthy and obese countries in the world.  In fact, heart disease has, and still is the leading cause of deaths in America.  CDC states, one person dies every 36 seconds because of heart disease. It goes on to say 655,000 people die of heart disease each year (that’s 1 in every 4 deaths).  CDC says 23.4 percent of deaths are due to some form of heart disease. 

              I say all of that to say this:  it is obvious that COVID-19 attacks the vulnerable in our community.  It’s also no secret that if you are dealing with obesity or any underlaying health factors, you are at a higher risk than the rest of Americans. CDC National Center for Health Statistics says obesity is at a high of 42.4% (2017-2018) This was a jump from 30.5% (1999-2000) and I can only imagine this number continues to climb. I could go on about all the health deficiencies that continue to haunt us all, that we seem to ignore totally or we band aid with medication.  We are a heavily medicated, unfit society and we have been headed further and further in that direction. 

              You may be asking yourself what this has to do with a mask mandate.  I work with people that are trying to turn their underlying health concerns around on a daily basis.  I have seen people drop as much as 100 pounds, and I have seen countless amounts of people get taken off of heart, cholesterol and other medications due to them embracing a healthy lifestyle.  They took action and went down the road less traveled to get out of the vulnerable state that COVID-19 seems to attack the worst.  They stopped eating fast food and started eating healthy and working out daily.  They now have the best tool to stop COVID, a healthy immune system.  Some people call CrossFit crazy as it is; I cannot imagine having people push their VO2 max with a mask on that limit’s oxygen flow. I cannot imagine someone starting their fitness journey today and then limiting/discouraging them more by forcing mask as they try to become a healthier version of themselves.  I feel masks can and will cause more of a problem if we used them in this setting.

              Ask yourselves this, if we are not regulating fast food and what people put in their mouths, and we are not forcing people to be active daily, then why are we entertaining a ruling, for people to forcibly wear a mask?  The hospitals do have a right to feel overwhelmed and I do pray for all of our people in that industry, but why do we continue to live on the defensive in this country when it is clear that the best defense is a really good offense?  

              We have had one of the toughest years to date with the gym due to shut downs and all of the problems we have had in the oilfield.  I ask you to not build another obstacle for us to overcome.  I ask you to keep people’s health where it belongs.  It’s our own responsibility to take care of our temple, not everyone around us.  Thank you for your time, I will pray that God guides your difficult decisions ahead.