New Jersey gym owner defies NJ Governor : “I do not ask for permission. I do not ask for forgiveness. You work for us.”


BELLMAWR, N.J – In a video he posted recently to social media, Atilis Gym co-owner, Ian Smith, extended a figurative middle finger to New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy for the governor’s attempts to “ruin” the gym with overwhelming restrictions and directed legal attacks.

Here at Law Enforcement Today, we have been reporting on the Atilis Gym since May, when gym co-owners Ian Smith and Frank Trumbetti re-opened their location in defiance of Murphy’s stay-at-home orders that had been instituted since March.

On the day of their re-opening, May 18, both owners were served with a summons for “Disorderly Conduct” and “Violation of Executive Order,” even though the gym had opened at 20 percent capacity and instituted temperature checks and social distancing protocols in an attempt to comply with much of Murphy’s orders.

The hits kept coming. 

Calling gyms “petri dish[es],” Murphy forced a closure of Atilis gym on May 22 by order of the New Jersey Department of Health.  The Department of Health also changed the locks on the facility.

After a judge subsequently ordered that Smith and Trumbetti could reopen only the gym’s nutrition shop, the pair instead re-opened the gym for outdoor workouts June 16 through July 14. 

After that time, they permitted workouts inside, while still requiring extensive safety protocols such as temperature checks and sanitization.

Later in July, Smith and Trumbetti were arrested and charged with “fourth-degree contempt, obstruction, and violation of disaster control act.”

Then in August, the pair kicked in a plywood barricade erected in front of their facility in order to reopen. They were threatened with fines of up to $10,000 per day.

Later that month, the Bellmawr Borough Council moved to revoke Atilis Gym’s business license.

Throughout their fight, Smith and Trumbetti have asked for the governor to provide the science behind his restrictions, and they have received no such evidence.  

In his latest stand for freedom, Smith posted a video on Instagram directed at Governor Murphy.

In the video’s description, Smith noted:

“We have been open against unconstitutional shut down orders since May.  Not once have we flinched, and the petty tyrant of New Jersey governor Murphy has tried everything he could possibly think of to ruin us. 

“Over seven months later we will open our doors every single day.”

Smith went on to say:

“No government official will ever tell me that I am not able to provide for my family. I do not answer to public servants – no matter what threats or punishments they impose. I am a free man. 

“I do not ask for permission. I do not ask for forgiveness. You work for us.”

He concluded:

“The only way you’ll ever close these doors is when you close my casket.”


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Ian Smith (@iansmithfitness)

In his video, Smith wears a hat stating “Lions Not Sheep.”  

He stands in the busy gym, holding up cards depicting short sentences.

The notes summarize Atilis Gym’s experiences over the last seven months, saying:

“We have over $1 million in fines.

“We have had our business license stripped.

“We have had our doors locked and barricaded.

“We have been arrested and have over 60 citations.”

Referring to large numbers of gym visitors who have attended, reportedly without a single coronavirus infection, the notes go on to say:

“Today we will pass 84,000 visits to our facility.

“We don’t mandate masks.  We never will.”

A person holding a raised middle finger walks by at that point, causing Smith to smile.

The notes go on to say:

“Gov. Murphy will see this video and fine us $15k for it.

“But… Free men  don’t ask permission.

“Or for forgiveness.

“No science.  No shutdown.”

The video then pans throughout the busy facility, and a voice is heard off-camera to say:

“F*** you, Murphy!”

Smith also spoke out on Fox News’ America’s Newsroom on Thursday, November 10th.

As reported by Townhall, Smith said:

“What’s happening to the middle class and small businesses in America is nothing short of a complete tragedy.”

He went on to discuss the direction this country is moving, saying:

“I would go so far as to call it criminal. 

“You are putting people out of business for good. You are making them reliant on big government. 

“You are taking away their civil liberties under the guise of pretending like you care about public health.”

As for the gym’s plans to survive future blows from Murphy and like-minded authorities, Smith told Fox Business’ Stuart Varney that he and co-owner Trumbetti have no plans to pay the fines, which now amount to $15,000 per day.  He added that he hopes that when they stand in front of a judge “who actually respects the Constitution,” that the fines will be forgiven.

Smith added:

“We promised each other we were going to see this all the way through and that we were going to fight until we had nothing left.”

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LET Unity

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.

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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