Gym defies order to close – removes its doors to keep club open
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Gym defies order to close – removes its doors to keep club open

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A privately-owned gym in New Jersey, US, is defying an official edict by the state governor to close.

Atilis Gym, located in Bellmawr, first reopened on 18 May, going against an executive order by governor Phil Murphy which limited indoor gym use to individual training sessions in separate rooms – and banned all unrestricted public use.

Local health officials and police moved in on the gym on 22 May, ordering the facility to close indefinitely and changing the locks on the gym doors.

Owners, Frank Trumbetti and Ian Smith, began legal proceedings against the state, scoring a partial victory after a judge ruled they could reopen solely to operate the nutrition shop inside – which was deemed an essential business.

This led to Trumbetti and Smith hosting workouts outside the gym from June 16 through July 4 – but the pair have now moved the sessions back inside.

The state has now issued them with another violation for operating – and threatened that the doors would be, again, be locked if they continued.

In response, the owners have removed the gym doors entirely, declaring that they would "stay here 24 hours a day, seven days a week until something happens – but they (officials) will not lock us out of our building".

In the latest development, a judge ruled that the owners – despite breaching the order – were not in contempt of court. The ruling means that the state's efforts to jail the pair were dismissed.

Following the judge's decision, Smith posted on Instagram, saying it was the first time the state had lost in court since the lockdown began.

During their battle to keep the gym open, Trumbetti and Smith have become famous on a national scale, due to appearing on multiple national news networks.

Their claim the order is unconstitutional has also turned the issue into a political one, which in turn has attracted a large group of supporters who have raised tens of thousands of dollars to help with legal fees.

On 21 July, a day after the latest court ruling, Smith appeared on Fox News' flagship news show, Tucker Carlson Tonight.

"We have a record of every single person who has set foot at the gym, with the total number of check-ins totalling thousands," Smith said on the programme.

"Not a single case (of coronavirus) has been reported so far and we've kept a detailed record of that all the way through.

"I think we are being hounded by the state because we are pushing back against a very clear political agenda at this point – and we've become a thorn in the side of governor Murphy.

"My partner and I are not willing to back down – we are not going to have our lives destroyed for a political agenda that has nothing to do with us."

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A privately-owned gym in New Jersey, US, is defying an official edict by the state governor to close.
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