Statewide Mask Mandate is Investment in our Future

My name is Lee Spieker, I moved to Nashville 3 years ago from Colorado for the music, new geography and warmer weather.  So far I’m thrilled with the move.

Lee Spieker
Railyard Fitness

I’ve worn many hats in the fitness industry over the past 45 years including equipment designer/manufacturer/marketer, health club owner, fitness equipment store founder, fitness video producer (remember “Buns of Steel”?) educator and kid’s fitness advocate.

Currently I market internationally a fitness product I designed called the “Railyard Portable Obstacle Course”.   The Railyard, when set up, is a group bodyweight exercise product where everyone in the class would touch it in some manner making it a challenge to use during Covid. Add that to the fact that these markets are seeing drastic reduction in revenue and use.

My business is down by 95% as physical education in schools and health clubs have been disrupted or shut down and I’m unsure of how either of these markets will look once we emerge from the pandemic.   It would seem as though the lack of fitness in our country – uncovered by the virus – would spur those in positions of power and influence or those individual citizens to take responsibility for their place in our society to improve their health.  

While this is my hope I do not see our government or a champion of exercise rising to promote a healthier population especially within the youth of our country who are the future of America.  Research shows that kids who exercise an hour a day grow up to be healthier and more productive citizens.  My mission for past 20 years is to see kids’ exercise become a trend in America and  to spread the message that every child needs exercise – not just the obese; that one hour a day can be provided at no cost and every parent has the right and obligation to demand this hour a day be provided to their child either in school, at the YMCA or in their health club.

 Fitness is my profession and I work very hard to represent myself as a dedicated user of daily exercise.  Even though I only ventured out to the grocery store once a week during the past 9 months, I still contracted Covid mid-September.  While it was two weeks of serious muscle fatigue, joint pain, headaches and upset stomach I was happy it did not attack my respiratory system.   Upon recovery I had hoped it was over but I’m now having considerable difficulty regaining my previous aerobic capacity, which I’m told is one of the after effects many are experiencing.  While I hope I’m able to get back to where I was, it’s possible I’ll deal with shortness of breath for the rest of my life.  I can say emphatically:


I could not be more disappointed in those we elected to serve and protect in our local, state and federal government who chose to declare war on the virus – then abdicate fighting it by passing the buck to whoever they could find or by just ignoring its existence.

Tennessee is now in critical condition.  Governor Lee’s ‘fend for yourself’ patchwork approach to the COVID-19 outbreak has failed.  He has ignored the pleas from thousands of Tennessee’s doctors and health experts for months, and now things are much worse.  

I believe this to be a dereliction of duty for which there should be repercussions of some sort.  The citizens of this country have a government to do for us collectively what we cannot do for ourselves. Together, through our system of government, we the people can print money to shore up our economy in hopes those affected businesses and individuals are still present when we emerge from the pandemic.

I believe in science, both exercise science and public health science  –   Governor Lee, this is not about politics – it’s about science.  Issue a statewide mask mandate, it’s an investment in the fiscal future of our country, every death costs us all, every eviction costs us all, every bankruptcy costs us all and every unemployment claim costs us all!  

I recently met someone who stated his absolute dislike of masks.  While he said he understood the reason to wear one he also said  “He had a right to his HATE”.  It takes so much more energy to hate than it does to love.  Energy that could be channeled towards one’s health and not towards a mask. 

We can defeat COVID-19, but as in most things – you meet tough challenges doing it united, together, with people making shared sacrifices so fewer people suffer.  Already there will be Tennesseans with one less seat at their table this Christmas because our leaders have refused to take responsibility and make the interventions health experts have shown work to control the spread of this virus.  We can – we must – do better.