Skeptical NJ gym owners get small victory in fight against gov to reopen; give warning to other owners

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The determined owners of the Atilis Gym may be on the verge of a victory of sorts with the announcement by N.J. Gov. Phil Murphy that fitness centers in the state can officially reopen on September 1 with reduced capacity.

Gym owners Ian Smith and Frank Trumbetti, who have been engaged in a long-running dispute with the lockdown-loving Democrat governor during COVID19, told Fox Business anchor Neil Cavuto that Murphy’s decision was a step in the right direction, but the ongoing legal battle over their constitutional rights is far from over.

“We have a lot of legal issues to resolve, and some legal issues of our own with Gov. Murphy. But it’s certainly a step in the right direction,” Smith told Cavuto in the clip embedded below, alluding to the fact that the gym is currently operating without a license and thus technically and ironically perhaps not covered by Murphy’s reopening permission slip.

Trumbetti asserted that the decision helps the duo’s case by demonstrating that Murphy “arbitrarily picks and chooses when he wants to open things up.”

“We’re going to stay open,” Smith added about the status of their gym. “We’ve suspended all commerce. We haven’t charged any members since April anyway.

“This wasn’t about just reopening the gym and making money. From the beginning, this is about taking a stand for what we believe are gross violations of due process and our constitutional rights. He’s put us out of business officially, but we’ve stayed in business…Gov. Murphy got his way and got us, quote, ‘out of business,’ but we’re still open, and we’ll continue to be open until we get all these matters resolved.”

Doing the bidding to Murphy, local health officials previously revoked their business license, and Trumbetti, 51, and  Smith, 33, face criminal charges and massive fines for defying Murphy’s dictatorial COVID orders. Smith implied that they will sue the town for “stripping our business license with no good reason.”

As widely reported, they have defiantly stayed opened and reopened despite Murphy’s efforts to shut them down.

[Source: Fox Business]

Trumbetti noted that the Atilis Gym cleverly reinvented itself as an official campaign rally location for GOP U.S. Senate candidate Rik Mehta, a healthcare policy expert who is running against Sen. Cory “Spartacus” Booker. The designation, if it holds up, arguably should provide the facility with First Amendment protections as well as other protections available under state law.

“Since they took our business license away from us, everybody comes in and signs up to be a volunteer for the campaign; we do different things throughout the day,” Trumbetti said. “And we allow everyone to exercise their rights while they are here.”

Trumbetti and Smith revealed that they owe the state about $300,000 in fines so far (more than $15,000 per day) because of the governor’s restrictions, which they claim was a ploy by the state to shut them down by draining their cash.

Co-owner Trumbetti also insisted that there was never any science or actual data behind Murphy’s shutdown order  — which seems to be a recurring theme across the country when authoritarian governors, mostly Democrats, have imposed draconian and seemingly random measures during the pandemic.

The gym has installed high-tech coronavirus screening measures, and to date, nearly 30,000 members/attendees have been tested with zero positives, according to Trumbetti. The facility doesn’t require masks either.

Before getting too pumped up, Trumbetti ominously warned other health clubs, however, that they should implement similar meticulous protocols because Murphy might scapegoat state gyms.

“By the end of September, he’s probably going to try to shut everybody down and blame it on the gyms to say they weren’t ready. So I just hope all the gym owners out there, that have been closed they actually take the precautions that we have taken, and they take it very seriously and make sure that their members take it seriously, and follow the guidelines, or else they are gonna find themselves being made an example of.”

As many have observed, public health authorities seem to have overlooked that a gym is a place where people work out and strengthen their immune system by getting into better shape. Regular physical activity can help ward off illness, especially with obesity being one of the major risk factors for COVID.



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