By Howard Monroe


BELLMAWR, N.J. (CBS) — Atilis Gym in Bellmawr is continuing its act of defiance against Gov. Phil Murphy’s shelter-in-place orders. A gym member was arrested and others were fined leaving the gym on Tuesday.

The gym’s owners, Ian Smith and Frank Trumbetti, reopened Monday against state orders. They say this is about their constitutional rights.

“I’m just trying to get back to having a gym and normal life,” Trumbetti said.

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The owners have received two summonses over the past two days.

“People keep asking me if I’m afraid,” Trumbetti said. “Absolutely, but I’m more afraid that my kids aren’t going to have rights.”

Trumbetti says they’ve put protections in place for members, including operating at 20% capacity, asking members to wear masks, and taking people’s temperatures. The governor, though, said it’s still too unsafe for gyms, restaurants and similar businesses to operate.

“We are constantly war-gaming this. But inside, lacking ventilation, sedentary in close proximity, those are really hard nuts to crack,” Murphy said.

The protest outside of the gym was organized by the groups New Jersey for Freedom and Open New Jersey. They are the same people who staged the protest outside of the statehouse in April.

On Tuesday, Camden County Freeholder Louis Cappelli issued a statement saying, he understands people wanting to get back to normal, but said the gym owners here were in the wrong for defying state orders.

“It would be so much easier to deal with this pandemic if we could go about our lives normally and we can’t right now,” Trumbetti said.

New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said in a statement the gym and its patrons “will be held accountable for violating the Governor’s orders.”

“Their actions threaten not only public safety, but also the safety of our police officers who are being called upon to disperse gatherings both inside and outside the gym,” Grewal said.

It is not clear if the county prosecutor’s office will follow through with these summonses. However, lawyers for the gym say they’ve offered to represent anyone who was issued a fine.

So far, the gym has raised over $25,000 for legal fees.

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