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Local martial arts gym hosts first event since start of pandemic

Gym hopes their next event will be just as safe and successful

A look at the inside of Pure Fitness Martial Arts. Empty seats awaited to be filled for the fight event that recently took place on June 26, 2021. // Courtesy of Pure Fitness Martial Arts

On June 26, Pure Fitness Martial Arts hosted its first fight event since February 2020. The event turned out to be a success but did not come without preparation for clearance by the city due to COVID-19.

Gov. Jay Inslee announced a statewide stay-at-home order on March 23, 2020 to start fighting the spread of COVID-19.

Brooke Pete’, co-owner of Pure Fitness Martial Arts, said, as a result of the order, Pure Fitness Martial Arts gym was forced to close and competitions came to a halt.

“It was awful, it was the most depressing experience we have ever experienced,” Pete’ said. “We opened our martial arts facility to help our community be at their best health.”

As the pandemic went forward, the plan was always to get classes back in session and an event planned as soon as Washington state allowed it, Pete’ said.

On May 18, 2021, Washington entered Phase 3 of the COVID-19 reopening process. This phase allowed indoor businesses to open to 50% capacity.

Pete’ said she planned for the event by referring to Gov. Inslee's website and reading all the requirements for a business to be cleared to host an event.

From there, Pete’ contacted the Bellingham Permit Center and submitted different plans for how the event would be formatted until the department approved it. 

“I submitted an entire plan, you have to write it out,” Pete’ said. “You have to provide blueprints of where everybody is going to sit, where everybody is gonna stand, how we take tickets, etc. You have to present a giant package to the city, they review it and then they accept or deny.”

The accepted event plan started with requiring everyone in attendance to wear a mask regardless of vaccination status. Only 100 tickets would be sold in comparison to 300 tickets sold pre-COVID-19. In addition, each ticket buyer's name would be recorded. Cameras were installed in the gym for liability reasons regarding COVID-19 guidelines.

Scarlet Tang, Whatcom County Health Department communications specialist, said in an email to The Front, “Requiring customers to wear masks, reminding them to keep at least six feet away from others, and reducing capacity allowed businesses to play a key role in limiting the spread of the virus, both among employees and customers.”

Dylan Barber, Pure Fitness Martial Arts coach, said something new he had to do for the event was he and his fighter were required to show proof of vaccination and a negative COVID-19 test to participate in the competition. 

Pete’ and her team expressed how the event was a major accomplishment. 

“It was a success, and I believe it was a success because everyone was safe, everyone had a good time, and everyone followed the rules,” Pete’ said. 

Pure Fitness Martial Arts fighter Sydney Sipes-Hayse said, comparing events she attended and participated in prior to Pure Fitness Martial Arts event, she would prefer her team's event due to the seriousness of public safety regarding COVID-19 requirements.

“I think it was important for our community to be able to go to a safe regulated event, but still be able to have fun while maintaining awareness that there is still a pandemic,” Sipse-Hayse said. 

She looks forward to their next event that will be held September 25. There are plans for more tickets to be sold but competitors and coaches will still need proof of tests and vaccinations, Pete’ said.

Barber said he looks forward to future events because it makes him hopeful for the possibility of putting COVID-19 in the past and making steps towards normalcy.

Juan Baldovinos Jr.

Juan Baldovinos Jr. is a senior at Western Washington University, majoring in Journalism in the News/ Editorial BA program. Juan is a part of The Front and focuses on news occurring in Whatcom County. When not reporting Juan enjoys spending time with his family, and watching sports. Juan has goals to be a sports journalist. You can contact Juan at 

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