Gyms try to strong-arm their way open

After being closed for more than two months, TopShelf Fitness Center owner Tommy Trilivas says he had no choice but to move forward and open up one his gyms Monday.

“Enough is enough at this point for me. Right now, I’ve exhausted every lead. We never wanted to defy an order in any way,” he said.

Trilivas and his gym members know there could be consequences. Bellmawr gym owner Ian Smith was arrested for reopening his gym a couple of weeks ago.

“This is a part of health. We got to get our blood moving; we got to get pumping. We don’t want to get sick from diseases that aren’t even corona,” said James Yoemans, a gym member.

“Eventually you will lose the compliance when you’re burning the candle at both ends. We’re not getting any financial help. My greatest fear right now would be what would happen if we don’t hear another date for a month or two, and we get into September and now they’re talking about possibly some kind of second wave coming and we never are allowed to open up again until next year,” Trilivas said.

He says since closing his gyms in March he’s lost more than $100,000. And that doesn’t include the additional expenses he’s paid to keep the facility clean and safe during the pandemic.

“I put the UV sterilizers inside the air conditioning ducts. We’re checking them for temperatures, and also giving them their own spray bottle where other stores wouldn’t have that. I mean, just that alone is way above and beyond anything you’re going to receive from any of the stores that have been open the entire time,” he said.

Jon Bevacqua is the owner of CrossFit Gym in Hoboken. Bevacqua is also a part of a task force to reopen gyms. He says the biggest misunderstanding is that there’s a one size fits all with gyms.

“Things like weather are things that we’re going to have to be working around. We’ll have to submit blueprints and plans and it only situates 15 people. We are technically still labeled as non-essential, so if we were to go outside and perform a fitness in the park or train people outside, we technically aren’t covered through our insurance company. So we would be putting CrossFit Hoboken more at jeopardy and at risk to losing our business license,” Bevacqua said.

Trilivas and Bevacqua say at this point a reopening date is critical to their livelihood. Trivilas says opening Monday is a form of protest, but he’ll cooperate with police and shut down if they enforce the executive order. And if that happens, he may have no choice but to close his businesses for good.