New Jersey gym re-opens days after owners arrest for defying state officials

BELLMAWR, New Jersey (WPVI) -- The Atilis Gym made a dramatic re-open Saturday morning with gym owners kicking in the boarded-up front entrance.

This comes just days after the owners were arrested and the gym was shut down by officials. The Bellmawr, New Jersey workout spot has continuously defied state orders to shut down amid COVID-19.

In May, they opened and on a near-daily basis received citations. Then last Monday, arrests were made and the gym stayed closed until Saturday.

Now, even though they are operating, they are still defying state orders. Co-owner Ian Smith tells Action News they have reached out to the governor's office to present a safety plan.

But the only response Smith says New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy gives them is punishment.

"The message we're trying to get across is we are highliting the absurdity of this," said Smith. "My business is being targeted, there's plenty of businesses that are defying orders, but he has made it clear he is out to ruin us."

Smith says he and his staff have put into place very extensive 15 point safety protocols, and haven't had a single case reported yet.

Masks are an optional requirement at Atilis Smith says but have safety plans in place that keep people at a distance.

Also, Smith says they take temperatures of everyone and log them.

Members say they agree with the owners and believe governor Murphy is implementing a double standard by forcing Atilis to close.

All while allowing other businesses to re-open. "We're down the shore, on the boardwalk getting our hair done, our toes painted, we're at Walmart," said Ayla Wolf of Medford.

Tom Gussen from Swedesboro says he feels safe. "He created a safe environment for everyone to feel comfortable coming in here."

The gym owners must go to court Tuesday and says their business license is on the line.

The owners say they will stay at the gym 24/7 which could get them arrested.
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