NJ Gym Owners Who Defied COVID Lockdowns Have Their Business License Restored
A man walks his dog past a placard stating "ALL SMALL BUSINESS IS ESSENTIAL" outside Atilis Gym on May 20, 2020 in Bellmawr, New Jersey.
Mark Makela/Getty Images

The owners of Atilis Gym in Bellmawr, New Jersey, had their business licenses restored, nearly two years after they made nationwide headlines for defying New Jersey’s COVID lockdowns.

Atilis co-owner Ian Smith shared a photo to Instagram Sunday showing the restored mercantile licenses. Smith also shared the photo to the Atilis Instagram account. Smith and co-owner Frank Trumbetti kept Atilis open to the public for the past two years, despite the revoked license, operating off of donations and merchandise sales.

“It’s been over 2 years since they came into our lives and told Americans they couldn’t run their businesses, go to work, school, church, or outside,” Smith wrote. “When we reopened [Atilis] we had no idea it would be this hard of a fight. We just knew it wasn’t right, and we were going to stand our ground for ourselves, our families, and the rights of all Americans. [Governor] Phil [Murphy] and his cowardly cronies at the Health Department, the [Attorney General]’s office, the Sheriff’s Department, and his lackey [NJ Superior Court] Judge Robert Lougy tried to bury us.”

Smith claimed that as a result of not complying with lockdown orders, he and Trumbetti received more than 90 citations, along with ten gym members who received citations; 9 criminal charges; that both he and Trumbetti were arrested, as well as one member; that local police changed the locks on the building, backed up their plumbing, and eventually boarded up the gym; that they were fined $15,497.76 every day they remained open, for 5 months; that $173,000 in fundraising for their legal defense was seized by the state; and that they owe more than $300,000 in legal bills. “And they took our business license,” Smith wrote. “Our ability to pursue the American dream. All for what? We were right all along. To date, 391,683 visits to our facility and people got healthier, happier, and better.”


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“Well, it paid off,” Smith continued. “The township folded. They reinstated our business license. It took them 2 years to realize that nothing would make us kneel. The fight is far from over, but from the bottom of our hearts we are sending out the biggest of thanks to the community that kept us safe, gave us a reason to fight, and picked us up every single time we got knocked down. No matter how determined we were, it would not have been possible to weather the storm if it were just us. Our members, the local community, the people of New Jersey, around the country, and around the world made it all possible. We made it. 2 years without charging a single member – just donations and [T-Shirt] sales. All the legal bills, fines, normal overhead, and safety equipment. We were able to do it because of you all. Thank you all again.”

Smith said the gym would begin signing up members again over the course of the next several days, and would resume billing members on April 15th. Memberships are $30 per month. He also announced the introduction of a free exercise program, supported by donations from community members and supporters and available to members of the community in need. Smith welcomed supporters interested in donating to the program to reach out to the gym.

Smith and Trumbetti claim they were sentenced to a year of criminal probation with minimal fines in January for physically removing the doors from the gym so they could not be locked out by police. They are also still involved in several legal challenges against the state of New Jersey. Smith also announced he was running for Congress in February.

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