By Dan Koob

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A weekend fire at a popular gym in South Philadelphia left no injuries but dealt them a financial blow. Their reopening plans now come with an additional hurdle.

Dave Garonzik’s phone wouldn’t stop going off just before midnight Friday.

“I basically got of bed and felt like I had been punched in the gut several times,” Garonzik said.

An owner of OpenBox Athletics near South 20th Street and Washington Avenue in South Philadelphia, Garonzik walked about a block-and-a-half from his home to see his gym on fire.

“There was just smoke billowing out from the second floor,” Garonzik said.

The second floor and half of their lobby space were charred, he said.

Several pieces of equipment, including nearly the entire fleet of exercise bikes, are gone.

This one seemingly melted into the rubber gym flooring.

Eyewitness News spoke to Garonzik in July as gyms, including his own, were left out of a restrictive COVID-19 green reopening phase in the City of Philadelphia.

“We’re all hurting,” Garonzik said in July. “We’re all small business owners. We all have families to feed.”

And now, as the gym was readying to reopen on Monday, “to kind of have one more wrench thrown at us in a year that’s already seen a lot of business lost, it’s rough, it’s really rough,” Garonzik said.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation, but Garonzik said they plan on hosting outdoor classes again this week.

“Our goal to providing fitness to our community is going to be the same as it was prior to all this happening,” Garonzik said. “And if we can’t find a way and our plan is to find a way, we’re going to continue to serve that community.”

A GoFundMe to help rebuild the popular space has already raised more than $20,000. You can help out OpenBox Athletics by donating here.


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