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Reopening of ‘The Gym’ in Victorville amid COVID-19 sparks controversy

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VICTORVILLE, Calif. (VVNG.com) — The Gym in Victorville reopened it’s doors to the public on Friday morning, despite the governor’s stay-at-home orders amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Gym, located at 14689 Valley Center Drive in Victorville, has been closed since last month after receiving orders to do so when gyms were deemed ‘non-essential business’.

Jacob Lewis, a manager at the facility, made the announcement on social media Thursday.

“I, Jacob Lewis will take full responsibility for re-opening of The Gym on 5/1/20 @ 6 AM This is against all my supervisors’ instructions,” the post stated in part.

In the announcement, Jacob said his decision to reopen was based on a conversation he had with a gym member who is diabetic, who said The Gym is his home away from home and that his diabetes has gotten out of control and he is falling apart since The Gym has closed.

“This brought me to a moment in my life where I realized I was being a BITCH!! By letting down the people that matter most to our community!! By not providing a service that helps them get through all the bull s**t! And gives them hope, strength, and health,” Jacob stated in his post, which was shared across the business’ various social media accounts.

“I went home and went through our inbox and found 100’s of messages from vets with #ptsd, single moms, and young men and women trying to make their way into the military, team members, and people that truly LIVE to go to The Gym. This woke me up so I looked into the rates on suicide, depression, domestic violence, all of them have increased since the shut down,” Jacob stated. “I then realized The Gym is “essential” to people’s mental and physical health.”

All the posts combined received over 1,300 comments from people who supported the decision, as well as from those who opposed it.

“I like how you give a story about a geriatric man with uncontrolled diabetes but this is exactly the population that is at risk of getting covid,” one person wrote.

The controversy escalated on social media after management responded to Instagram users who left concerns regarding health and safety pertaining to the reopening.

“@vivodolce your a sheep. Look at the numbers. I’m soo glad your opinion matters!!!” Jacob responded.

After the person identified themself as a nurse, The Gym, using their business’ social media account responded and wrote, “@vivodolce only thing you nurse is. Deezzz [sic] nuts!!”

Another user said the decision to reopen was the right choice.

“It’s true. It truly equates to a medical facility for mental health as well as physical well being. My husband MUST workout. He has an A+++ type personality and it keeps him balanced,” wrote Betty Thomas Sperry.

On Friday, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department said that deputy sheriffs have been assigned to follow up on businesses that have been reported to Public Health and determine if they are violating the public health order.

“Our ultimate goal is for everyone, including businesses, to voluntarily comply with the health order.  If the business is found to be noncompliant, the teams will educate them on the Public Health Order and strive for voluntary compliance.  The teams will instruct the businesses to comply with the order and a future site visit may be conducted to verify compliance,” the Department’s spokeswoman Cindy Bachman told Victor Valley News.

Upon reopening their doors, The Gym prominently placed a sign outside the gym that read, “#GymsAreEssential #ReopenAmerica,” along with a large printed banner displaying that Constitution of the United States.

Hours after reopening, a code enforcement officer visited the facility and dropped off documents, but the business remains open as of Friday afternoon.

After reopening Friday, Code Enforcement with the City of Victorville dropped of paperwork. (Photo credit: Erika McRae)

“I challenge all gyms, Big/small to open for our members and open America back up! It’s time to fight back and take back our country!  💪💪💪🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸@gavinnewsom come get some!! Hate me or love me we will see you on the 1st! @lafitness @inshapehealthclubs @24hourfitness @legendsbarbell @anytimefitness @planetfitness @hesperiaAF 🤭 if you’re American you’ll open!! Don’t be scared.🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸,” Jacob wrote as he ended his post.

In an interview with TMZ on Friday Jacob says “equipment is spaced out in order to follow social distancing guidelines, and there’s disinfectant everywhere.” He says the showers and saunas are closed as a precaution, adding … “Basically right now it’s a gym with bathrooms.”

The Gym Victorville reopens amid covid-19
(photo by Josh Mallett)
The Gym Victorville coronavirus covid019
(Facebook)
The Gym Victorville reopens amid covid-19
(photo by Josh Mallett)
 
 
 
 
 
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Walking out of The Gym today after receiving 100’s of emails, insults, texts, and requests to cancel, Etc (I was pretty beat up), I saw an older man standing outside the front door with his head down. ( I almost stayed inside as I was just beat but something told me to go out side) So I asked the man “how’s it going buddy”, expecting to get my ass chewed for being closed, or billing issues. The man asked, “you can’t even let 10 of us in at a time?” (while gym capacity is over 500) I said, “No, from what our Gov says. Our hands are tied.” He went on to tell me how The Gym is his home away from home and his #diabetes has gotten out of control and he is falling apart since The Gym has closed. This brought me to a moment in my life where I realized I was being a BITCH!! By letting down the people that matter most to our community!! By not providing a service that helps them get through all the bull shit! And gives them hope, strength, and health. I went home and went through our inbox and found 100’s of messages from vets with #ptsd, single moms, and young men and women trying to make their way into the military, team members, and people that truly LIVE to go to The Gym. This woke me up so I looked into the rates on suicide, depression, domestic violence, all of them have increased since the shut down. I then had one more conversation with an older friend in NV begging me to come out for a workout, he told me “they took my gym, this is all I LIVE for!” Added, “it keeps me out of jail” I laughed, he said “I’m not joking Jake”. I then realized The Gym is “essential” to people’s mental and physical health. With that being said, I, Jacob Lewis will take full responsibility for re-opening of The Gym on 5/1/20 @ 6 AM This is against all my supervisors instructions 🤪🤪. If you’re sick or feel like this isn’t for you, #stayhome ! For the rest of you, we appreciate the support and promise to always deliver the best service in the industry. Gyms are essential and have a lower flow than Costco, Walmart, Target Etc. There is no reason Gyms can’t operate under the same protocol. It was a mistake to close gyms and a bigger mistake to keep them closed.

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Related Article: Victorville City calls The Gyms actions “reckless” and gives them 3 days to comply after defying county health orders

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