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Gavin Louis Uridel was not going to wait for the government’s go-ahead to reopen Metroflex Gym in Oceanside, CA. In mid-May, he invited customers back into his gym and was arrested for violating local health orders. Gyms were supposed to remain closed due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
The former bodybuilder and personal trainer hasn’t backed down, though. He once again reopened the gym, and as of this writing has not been re-arrested.
He has not only earned the support and admiration of those who oppose the quarantine and lockdown orders issued by several cities and states (his case was featured on an episode of Tucker Carlson’s Fox News talk show), but of the community.
Dozens showed up outside of his gym last month to support small businesses. Uridel said at the rally that he’s not trying to be political, but simply feed his family.
“It’s not about whether you’re Democrat or Republican, your race creed or color, it’s about bringing people together for small businesses that help to pay for our social welfare programs and even police and fire,” he told a local TV news station.
Muscle & Fitness spoke to the gym owner about his case, why he reopened the gym, and what he’s doing to keep patrons safe.
M&F: Why did you make the decision to reopen your gym?
Uridel: After 2 months of no income, the projections were evident. We would not be able to keep our doors open. I needed to open immediately in order to salvage the business and save it. I did it to be able to save the dream and business I built and feed my family.
Do you think you would’ve closed had the government not forced you to?
I would have taken the same safety measures we have implemented now had the government given me the choice … I only closed because we were forced to close. I will say, I willingly complied with the closure only because I believed it would be for a short time.
What do you say to people who think it’s too soon to reopen gyms?
I was told by a Covid-19 inspector that our gym was safer than a Walmart and definitely safer than an airplane. If we are going to have a second wave I would suggest we focus on every businesses’ safety efforts. Moreover, several experts have said that gym exercise is critical in fighting these sort of viruses … some states are opening gyms for this very reason.
Do you think people are ready to go back into gyms right now?
Many members are itching to get back in. Many say they have mentally never felt better and have been in a bad place over the last few months. If you do not feel safe, then your choice is to not come in.
What safety measures have you taken at your gym?
We have sectioned off some equipment and moved other pieces. We have also limited our capacity to 20% max which gives everyone 420 square feet per person.
We have an EPA-rated disinfectant that can be sprayed on equipment and left to dry. We make customers wash hands when they come in and before they leave. We have closed off bathrooms and showers. We have an excessive amount of hand sanitizer available. We also disinfect the gym frequently throughout the day.