Gym targeted, shutdown by NJ governor now designated official campaign location in senate race


The following editorial is written by a retired Chief of Police and current staff writer for Law Enforcement Today

BELLMAWR, NJ- God Bless America! There is more than one way to skin a tyrant, and it appears the owners of Atilis Gym in Bellawr, New Jersey have found it. Ian Smith and Frank Trumbetti, owners of the gym have joined the U.S. Senate campaign of Rik Mehta and will hold daily political rallies at the gym. 

The gym has been pretty much ground zero in a dispute between business owners and New Jersey’s tyrannical governor Phil Murphy, who appears to be making it his life’s work to destroy the livelihoods of Smith and Trumbetti. More on that in a bit. 

In a press release issued by Mehta, who is challenging far-left liberal Cory Booker in the U.S. Senate race, he announced the alliance between his campaign and Atilis Gym:

“Today, I am proud to announce that the owners of Atilis gym, Ian Smith and Frank Trumbetti have joined the Rik Mehta for U.S. Senate campaign Finance Committee.

Effective immediately, our campaign will begin holding daily political rallies by those members who volunteer on our campaign at the Atilis Gym location in Bellmawr.

My campaign is rooted in supporting the hardworking people of New Jersey and saving the small business that are the backbone of our economy both here in New Jersey and across our great country. Our Constitutional rights are sacred to all Americans and elected officials who believe the Bill of Rights are above their pay grade, degrade the American Dream.

We will continue to be a loud vocal voice for those who have been silenced and treated unfairly by overreaching politicians. I stand shoulder to shoulder with Ian, Frank and all of the hardworking dedicated small business owners who just want a fair shake and I will continue to fight alongside all of them. Together, we will make New Jersey a place to live, not leave.

Come join us every day from now until election day to join our political workout fundraisers and at the same time, exercise your 1st amendment rights. Stand up in defense of our fellow citizens, our Constitution, and our great nation and together, let’s be Jersey Proud!”  

Dr. Rik Mehta,

Candidate for US Senate

Dr. Mehta is a former U.S. Food and Drug Administration official.

The Washington Examiner reported that on Friday, Smith and Trumbetti revealed that the gym is now a designated campaign rally and volunteer location for Mehta’s campaign.

“All members are invited to join us in exercising their rights by coming to the facility to volunteer their time, donate, and participate in activities,” they said.

This past week, the gym was fined nearly $130,000 by the State of New Jersey for allegedly defying Murphy’s executive order to remain closed during the pandemic. Smith and Trumbetti have repeatedly said via media that they have taken significant steps to ensure the health and safety of their clients, however Murphy continues to punish them for daring to defy his rules.

Murphy has taken steps from having their sewers shut down, to having their utilities interfered with to coerce the gym owners to meet his draconian demands. They have been cited numerous times by the Bellmawr police, who likely have better things to do than pad Murphy’s ego.

After they were fined this past week, they joined forces with the Mehta campaign in order to keep their facility open.

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Smith told the Washington Examiner that they notified the state of New Jersey of the gym’s designation as a campaign location for Mehta.

In a statement, the gym owners said:

“Any fines levied or attempt to barricade our doors would now be political interference with an active Senate Campaign. Rik Mehta has been one of the only political figures in NJ to show his support for the rights of small businesses. Where others have ‘spoken’ support, Rik has shown action.”

The gym has been in a battle of wits (and honestly, Murphy has few) since May, when the executive order Murphy issued ordering “nonessential” businesses to remain closed prevented Smith and Trumbetti from conducting business. The owners claimed that Murphy’s order was arbitrary and capricious, along with unconstitutional.

Two weeks ago, they reopened their gym once again, busting down the boarded up-front door of their business once again defying Murphy. The Bellmawr Borough Council voted 5 to 1 to revoke the gym’s business license last week.


Smith and Trumbetti remain defiant, saying that the borough had not provided any evidence that the gym poses a health hazard.

“It’s just a political attack that did not need to occur,” Trumbetti said.

“Unfortunately, now instead of being on our side the Borough of Bellmawr is now an adversary, and they will be dealt with in the future and they will be served papers. The individuals that are responsible for that are now going to have to answer for what they’ve done.”

The men have been charged with 4th degree contempt, obstruction, and violation of a disaster and control act. If convicted, they face a $1,000 fine and up to six months in jail.

Far-left New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said through a spokesperson:

“After Atilis refused to comply with multiple criminal citations and Superior Court orders, including a contempt of court order issued Friday, today, law enforcement entered the premises to ensure closure and abate the public health risks.

“As the attorney general previously said, the state wishes it had not come to this, but the gym refused to comply even with a contempt order.”

Smith believes the gym is being targeted for political reasons.

“We’re being targeted. It’s very clear that he’s on a mission to destroy our business because we dared to defy him,” Smith told the Washington Examiner.

“There are plenty of other businesses that are open and operating, just like we are defying the shutdown. But Gov. Murphy has a personal vendetta against us, and it couldn’t be more clear than it is today.”

Smith said that Murphy had “weaponized every public organization” against the gym owners, noting they had been subject to 18 criminal charges. He noted that the health department had closed the gym, despite never even having been inside the building.

Smith was clear that the gym has gone out of the way to take safety precautions in order to open up. He said the gym has “a 15-point safety program in place” that they have publicized.

Murphy, who is in competition for the most incompetent, out of touch and tyrannical governor in the country is clearly on a mission. In an interview with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson earlier this year, Carlson asked him about his order to prohibit religious gatherings while allowing other gatherings to take place. Murphy said the Bill of Rights was “above [his] pay grade.”


Kudos to Smith and Trumbetti, along with Dr. Mehta for this bold chess move. Let’s see how Murphy responds to this move which has clearly put him in “check.”

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