As NJ governor outlines COVID-19 reopening plan, Camden County gym goes rogue

Tim Jimenez
May 19, 2020 - 9:22 am

UPDATED: 11 a.m.

BELLMAWR, N.J. (KYW Newsradio) — Gov. Phil Murphy announced a three-phase plan on Monday to ease restrictions on New Jersey businesses and residents. He also had a warning for a Camden County gym that decided to open up ahead of time.

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The Atilis Gym in Bellmawr opened Tuesday morning for the second consecutive day, even after the warning. 

“These aren’t just words. We’ve got to enforce this,” Murphy said Monday. “But I also don’t want to start World War III.”

For the second time, the Bellmawr Police Department issued citations to the owners of the gym for violating the governor’s order.

Bellmawr police citation for Atilis Gym
Tim Jimenez/KYW Newsradio

They’re still open however, and the owners vow to keep it that way. Co-owner Ian Smith says they’re doing more than any big box store is doing to maintain a safe environment.

“We’re being thorough,” Smith said. “There’s always the concern that it will spread. We’re going above and beyond.”

There are temperature checks, a medical questionnaire and thorough cleaning, he says. 

“We have an employee who is grabbing drinks for everybody with a glove on their hand. People are not self-serving anywhere in the gym. After each wave of people, we come through with the entire crew inside and we wipe every single piece down.”

Smith says they’re prepared for consequences from the state. He said they have warned gym members that they could be arrested at any time and his lawyer will help them all as a group if that happens.

Murphy’s plan right now is focusing on the first of three phases to ease restrictions. The first, which New Jersey is in now, focuses on resuming some outdoor activities, which he says is safer than allowing people to congregate indoors.

“This is not going to be quick. We’re going to move deliberately based on data,” Murphy said Monday. 

He signed an executive order allowing batting cages, golf driving ranges, horseback riding and private tennis clubs to reopen this Friday — but not, officially, gyms.