On Monday, the owners of Atilis Gym, in Bellmawr, New Jersey were arrested after not complying with Governor Phil Murphy’s executive order to remain closed because of COVID-19. A state judge ruled on Friday that New Jersey authorities could shutter and shut down Atilis Gym. Frank Trumbetti, 51, and Ian Smith, 33, were each charged with one count of fourth-degree contempt, one count of obstruction and one count of violation of a disaster control act.
On Saturday, Trumbetti and Smith were on Fox & Friends Weekend and explained the situation, “So, the judge awarded the state the ability to come and padlock our doors. So, Frank and I had been here now for over 48 hours running the gym 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We got some volunteers and we took the doors off the hinges,” Smith said. “They’ve already locked our doors once. It’s our private property. This is a place that we have built and spent our — all of our time creating. And, we refuse to be locked out and bullied by the governor again“.
They went on to explain that the Governor has allowed some outdoor sports recently, “So, I can do full-contact martial arts. I can box somebody outside. I can tackle them in football. I can do rugby, you know, scrum and I can’t get COVID. But, somehow if I walk into my gym and decide I want to lift weights or even go inside a martial arts studio, I will get COVID if I do the same exact things?” he questioned. “It’s actually insanity“.
Trumbetti and Smith decided to stay at the gym round the clock and keep the doors open 24/7 because they removed the front door from being padlocked. “We have two weeks’ worth of clothing in here. And, we will not be leaving unless we are arrested or unless the state backs down. We have had enough of this,” Smith stated. “We can operate our business safely, responsibly. We have shown that to be true. We haven’t had a single case of COVID reported and we have everybody’s records here,” he added. “So, we’re not backing down from this one“.
In an interesting turn of events, Smith and Trumbetti have nicknamed their gym “A.M.A.Z.” or an “Anti-Murphy Autonomous Zone.” They named it after Seattle’s Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone which was later renamed CHOP.
Atilis Gym was also changed from a registered LLC to a PMA — or Private Membership Association (A Private Membership Association (PMA) is any kind of business or group where services and participation are limited to members only — and not open to the general public). “And, we had 327 people sign up yesterday for that and we had a total of 620 people come through the door yesterday to actually get their workout in. So, we’re prepared to be here,” Trumbetti said. “And, the number of people –the fact that 620 people came through the door — will [give] you a little bit of an idea of how much support we have just locally, let alone throughout the country,” he concluded.
They have both since been released from custody and look forward to their day in court.