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July 27, 2020

Atilis Gym owners charged after defying New Jersey court order to shut down

Camden County fitness center continues prolonged battle over COVID-19 restrictions

Gyms Coronavirus
Atilis Gym Bellmawr Google/Street View

Ian Smith and Frank Trumbetti, the owners of Atilis Gym in South Jersey, were arrested Monday, July 27 after they defied a court order to shut down the facility after it failed a health inspection.

The owners of the Atilis Gym in Bellmawr were arrested Monday morning after they refused to leave the fitness facility despite a judge issuing a contempt order against them last Friday.

Ian Smith, 33, and Frank Trumbetti, 51, were each charged with contempt, obstruction and violation of a disaster control act in their ongoing battle to operate their business during the coronavirus pandemic.

The gym owners have long argued that the wording of New Jersey's order on health clubs and gyms should allow them to remain open for members only, but not the general public.

Last week, Camden County health inspectors found that the gym failed to provide staff with gloves and masks, exceeded capacity limits and did not implement social distancing. The gym also had covered its windows, blocking anyone from seeing into the building from the outside.

Judge Robert Lougy ordered Atilis Gym to close Friday, but a number of people were observed entering and using the facility over the weekend, in direct violation of the order. The order had permitted the health department to place a lock on the doors, but Smith and Trumbetti removed the door from its hinges and said they would not leave.

Before the court decision, Lougy had ruled that the gym could remain open if it followed New Jersey’s COVID-19 guidelines. The owners indicated they had no intention of doing so. 

Smith and Trumbetti were both released after they were charged Monday.

Atilis Gym first reopened on May 18, defying the state's shutdown orders and prompting national media attention. The gym remained open for three days before it was shut down by state health officials, beginning a battle that has dragged on ever since.

Smith and Trumbetti tried to sue the state in federal court, but a judge dismissed the case last month, saying he would not interfere with New Jersey enforcing its COVID-19 restrictions. The facility then filed an appeal in state court, but Smith said that they were not granted an injunction.

The gym has held some indoor workouts, against the state's orders, since early July.

In a statement on Facebook, Atilis Gym said the facility has been boarded up. The owners have signaled that they plan to continue their battle in court.

Welcome to America 2020, where feeding your family and standing up for your Constitutional rights is illegal. @govmurphy flexing his little tyrant muscles finally - only took him 70 days. Officers from the county sheriffs entered the premises without a warrant or adhering to the signage posted on the door requesting they call first. They took Frank and I away and boarded up our private place of business. This is gonna be fun in court. If this doesn’t alarm you, you’re part of the problem. Please share and repost, let’s make these idiots answer for their power trip.

Posted by Atilis Gym, Bellmawr, NJ on Monday, July 27, 2020