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San Jose gym fined nearly $1 million closes its doors


A San Jose gym that has racked up nearly $1 million in fines for flouting public health orders designed to stop the spread of COVID-19 has finally closed its doors, complying with California regulations.

California Ripped Fitness’ decision to temporarily close its indoor operation at 1035 E. Capitol Expressway comes after months of remaining open in blatant defiance of the state’s public health order.

Over the past two months, Santa Clara County had received dozens of complaints about the gym, conducted repeated site visits and slapped the business with nearly $1 million in fines after it refused to abide by the rules.

The gym’s justification for being defiant was displayed prominently on its front windows in the form of colorful, hand-written signs that read: “We are exercising our constitutional right to peacefully protest. We are protesting that health clubs and exercise are essential.”

The county on Wednesday announced that the owner of California Ripped Fitness had finally submitted a compliance statement indicating they were no longer operating indoors.

“The county is pleased that California Ripped Fitness has decided to come into compliance, and we will be working with them on an agreement to resolve the outstanding fines,” the county health department wrote in a statement. “If they re-open in violation of the public health orders, they will be subject to additional fines and potential court action.”

The state’s purple tier for reopening, which currently bounds Santa Clara County, prohibits gyms from operating indoors but allows them to move equipment and classes outside to continue serving their clients. California Ripped Fitness, which is located in a large strip mall parking lot, has not yet moved any equipment outdoors.

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In an anonymous interview earlier this month, the gym’s manager said he had “no viable option” for moving the heavy equipment into the busy parking lot and argued that remaining open for indoor exercise was the owner’s only means to pay the bills.

“We’ve got fines, but if we shut down, we’re not going to have our business anyway,” the manager said at the time. “The owner is going to lose everything, so the county and the state are really putting us between a rock and a hard place.”

During a mid-afternoon visit to the gym earlier this month, about two dozen people were inside working out. A sign on the front desk informed people they must wear a mask and wipe down equipment after use.

The gym had closed its sauna, stopped offering group classes and turned off its water fountains — all protocols put in place in the fall, when it was permitted to serve clients indoors with a limited capacity.

SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 03: Signs posted on the front of California Ripped Fitness in San Jose explain the gym’s reasoning for continuing to allow clients to work out indoors, despite the fact that it violates the state public health order. (Dai Sugano/Bay Area News Group) 

California Ripped Fitness shuttered for six months at the start of the pandemic, but in September, when Santa Clara County initially moved into the state’s red tier, which allowed gyms to open indoors at 10% capacity, it reopened. About two months later, when the county was reverted back to the purple tier, the gym kept its doors open despite orders to close.

Unlike in the case of San Jose’s defiant Calvary Chapel — a church in Willow Glen that was sued by the county for repeatedly hosting large, mask-free indoor services — the county did not take legal action against California Ripped Fitness.

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The business was, however, cited and fined for violating public health directives prohibiting indoor operations and failing to follow social distancing and face mask requirements.

Santa Clara County said California Ripped Fitness was not the only gym that has violated the public health orders but it was the most difficult gym to convince to come into compliance.

California Ripped Fitness is situated in one of the ZIP codes hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic in Santa Clara County — 95121. In the neighborhoods surrounding the gym, about eight out of every 100 residents have been infected by the virus, according to county data.



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