Owners Break Into, Reopen Own Gym After State Closure

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The battle between Atilis Gym and New Jersey continued over the weekend.

The Cherry Hill Courier-Post reported that the owners of Atilis Gym in Bellmawr broke into their own facility Saturday, reopening the gym after the state had sealed the entrance days before due to Atilis’ non-compliance with government restrictions put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“What really upsets me is it had to come to this,” said co-owner Ian Smith, who has been fighting with the state since New Jersey governor Phil Murphy began to put coronavirus restrictions in place this spring. “When he knocks us off, he’s going to come for somebody else.

“It’s going to be indoor dining and restaurants. It’s going to be the gym industry. And then once they’re eradicated, the next set of lockdowns will come.”

Atilis’ entrance was closed July 27, after the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office obtained a July 24 court order to close the gym on behalf of health commissioner Judith Persichilli. Atilis had allegedly ignored a court order to limit indoor operations to appointment-only individual instruction. Along with the court order closing the gym, Smith and his partner Frank Trumbetti were charged with contempt and disorderly persons offenses.

The owners had been living in the gym, and removed the front door to make it more difficult for the state to close it. Therefore, the state placed plywood panels over the entrance. Those panels were kicked in Saturday.

A crowd gathered outside, while customers lined up for temperature checks before working out.

"All government officials must call the front desk for permission to enter this facility," a sign at the entrance read.

Related content: NJ Health Dept. Shuts Down Gym That Defied Order

It’s the latest in a series of disagreements between Atilis and the government. After closing in March, Atilis reopened May 18. A court order padlocked the door May 22, but Atilis was allowed to reopen June 15 with certain restrictions.

The Courier-Post reported that the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office conducted surveillance for more than six hours on July 22, noting that of the 72 people that entered the gym between 5:45 a.m. and 10:10 a.m., only two were observed wearing masks.

Related content: Judge: Gym in Violation of Order May Be Fined

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