Ep 151: From Covid Pariah to Congress – Ian Smith of Atilis Gym

Ian is the co-owner of Atilis Gym in Bellmawr New Jersey, who became famous for keeping his gym open during the draconian Covid lockdowns under New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, racking up over a million dollars in fines. Ian became a lighting rod in the media (To include Tucker Carlson) for his rational questioning of the Covid lockdowns and staying open and fighting the good fight. Now he is running for Congress in his district and putting his money where his mouth is.

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Topics Discussed: 

  • How Ian and his gym became a target during the Covid lockdowns under Governor Phil Murphy.
  • How Ian became a new gym owner and then Covid changed everything.
  • How Ian and his business partner did everything they could do to follow the rules.
  • Why there was no logical explanation given for shutting down gyms but keeping liquor stores open.
  • How Ian’s customers rallied together and kept the gym open.
  • How the forces against him played dirty tricks that had nothing to do with health and wellness.
  • How big gov and big corporations have used Covid to wage a war on small businesses.
  • How he became the lightening rod for us freedom fighters.
  • Why fighting for our rights and freedom is so important.
  • How he came to his decision to run for Congress.

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Episode Resources:

Transcripts :

[Music]

with gary collins

your how-to guide for getting your [ __ ]

together

[Music]

hey ian thanks for coming on it’ll be

exciting

uh we’re flexing at each other earlier

you know showing off the guns

no we’re both health enthusiasts i think

that’s where a lot of it starts right

and uh i’m an old man i’m in my 50s but

i still lift i still lift by the arny

principles nothing’s changed

and that’s kind of how this whole thing

started

yeah you’re you’re a gym owner you’re in

new jersey

you know just going through life right

just trying to live the best life you

can stay in shape and this coveted [ __ ]

hits out of nowhere

it start from there how it all just kind

of spirals a little downhill after that

or uphill i guess um

yeah i guess a little bit of both yeah

so my name is ian smith i am one of the

co-owners of the attila’s gym located in

belmar new jersey

uh my business partner frankie betty and

myself decided upon being shut down

during the 14 days slow spread

we’re all in this together

um flatten the curve idea um

we decided that we were going to reopen

on day three um we weren’t we weren’t

happy about closing at all seemed like a

bad idea

however we didn’t really know

enough to confidently stay open um

because there just wasn’t wasn’t any

good information available at the time

so

uh begrudgingly frank and i closed our

doors we were a brand new business we

had just bought the gym nine months ago

it was an absolute dumpster fire when we

bought it and pretty quickly we turned

around um just some good old-fashioned

hard work dedication

uh poured everything we had into it and

we turned a place that was pretty much

three months behind on all its bills

less than 100 members a day coming

through to a flourishing

gym

oh see there’s the animal

[Laughter]

a flourishing gym that had about 250

people coming through a day

new members signing up every day we were

paying our bills and kind of uh

reinvesting in the business very

um very easily and uh kobe came along so

you know we uh like i said we weren’t

happy about shutting down but we did

but we wanted to understand if we were

being shut down we wanted to understand

why and who was actually telling us to

do this

um i don’t think those are two questions

that are really uh too absurd to ask

very logical i think they’re very

logical questions yeah but we didn’t you

know we didn’t look at a lot of people

and this isn’t a criticism by any

stretch of the imagination but a lot of

people looked at this like oh like

and and it’s because people put their

faith in government um they were like oh

okay cool like two weeks off you know

whatever so but for us it was very

stressful as business owner and i think

i can probably speak for all business

owners um you know when somebody comes

along and says you know you still gotta

pay your rent and everything um you’re

gonna close your business for for two

weeks um you know that’s that’s that’s

pretty stressful so

we set right out to understand what was

going on we paid attention to the

science and we paid attention to the

politics and very very quickly uh we

just got red flag after red flag

uh we were looking at the behavior of

the politicians and it was typical

politics as usual they were you know

jousting and jabbing and positioning

themselves for you know this big uh

stimulus thing that they were talking

about

um and when you’re playing with people’s

lives you know i don’t i don’t really

have the patience for politics

um not like that you know not not when

you know uh a very good friend and my

partner

um and myself put our life savings in

this place you know it wasn’t a joking

matter

um that and you know we uh we

were looking at what coronavirus was you

know we were being shown at the time

these

horrid videos of um you know just

like people dropping dead in the streets

and body bags stacked outside of

hospitals

um but that wasn’t that we weren’t

seeing that in public you know we

weren’t when we were going out

um you know and going to walmart and

going grocery shopping like we weren’t

we weren’t seeing it so

right away we started to question the

idea of how dangerous is this um

very quickly we realized that it was you

know it’s something that did hurt people

but

um not a whole lot different in terms of

severity uh when it comes to most of

your mild uh of respiratory issues um

tend to affect people with comorbidities

tend to affect people who is overweight

tend to affect people that are

immunocompromised but that’s no

different than influenza

and admittedly uh frank is the smarter

of the two of us he’s extremely kind of

science-minded and he was able to

pull a lot of this information that was

you know academia

uh studies about coronavirus how it was

mitigated early treatment options uh

research that had been done prior to the

outbreak all this stuff and very quickly

we realized that okay there was a threat

um but it was clearly being overstated

and um and the only thing that we could

gather when looking at the politics was

it was being overstated for political

reasons and that this was

really much more than keeping people it

was it was not about keeping people

healthy because public policy didn’t

make making sense

you know they uh they closed gyms they

closed hair salons they closed churches

um they closed uh social settings all of

which are you know if you if you have

any concept of health whatsoever um

especially from a holistic uh wellness

standpoint all of these things are

very important factors health is not a

one-dimensional entity by any stretch of

the imaginary nation and they made it

start and end with covet and nothing

else mattered uh but we run a gym so we

understand that we understand that uh

people have stress they have to deal

with people have addiction issues uh

people have confidence issues people

have mental health issues um that are

far more than just the physical but are

very very intertwined with physical you

know we have a gym full of veterans uh

we have a gym for recovering addicts we

have a gym for police fire military

nurses people who have very high stress

jobs who do need somewhere to go um and

you but you were leaving liquor stores

open and you were leaving fast food open

but people can’t go to church uh and be

healthy in a spiritual emotional mental

sense

um so you know it just didn’t make sense

and then uh and then we said [ __ ] it

we’re gonna open

and um we put together a plan over the

next six weeks and we reopened our gym

went on talk across and talked about it

kind of uh flipped governor murphy off

told him we were going to do it uh but

it was it was truly pitched as a as a

way to reopen pitched as a solution to a

problem they were saying that there was

this danger

um you know that that you know they they

couldn’t figure out how to reopen

businesses and you know frank and i put

together a really really good plan um

and we’re not you know we’re not any

smarter than the average person uh we

were just dedicated to figuring out a

problem that was causing us and a lot of

people that we know a lot of problems we

watch businesses go down left and right

um some of our local competitors you

know

i love being in business and the last

thing i want to see is somebody fail for

things that were beyond their control um

and we were watching that so just you

know wasn’t right so we put the plan out

publicly we we opened

um hoping that government would maybe

compromise but i think deep down inside

we knew they wouldn’t and uh that

started the war with governor murphy the

state of new jersey and the health

department um day one we received some

citations

day two

um our members were getting excited uh

we were getting excited uh somebody got

arrested

for working out for the heinous crime of

working out

day three it just kept escalating they

put cameras in the parking lot they were

pulling people over following to their

falling into their homes harassing them

stuff like that uh our sewage got toyed

with from the back from del mar

from the del mar borough

um we we have pictures of of sewage

trucks outside our sewage starter coming

up through our toilets we got a health

department shut down and then it really

started to escalate we had our doors

locked

uh physically checked the locks changed

on our doors uh we broke back in we

pulled equipment outside um for 30 some

days or 20 20 30 days

pulling basically a whole gym outside

every single day like 40 000 pounds

worth of equipment

um we went back inside we got a

contemporary court order we started

getting fined fifteen thousand dollars

for every day that we were in operation

uh we had a hundred seventy three

thousand dollars taken from our bank

account that was donations we had we

still have an extra charge remember we

haven’t charged anybody since we closed

down it’s all been donations and t-shirt

sales

um so they took that money they revoked

our business license they arrested us

um they boarded up our doors we kicked

them back in

and um and they’ve never closed us down

since and we’ve been open every single

day we actually just passed 380 000

visits to the facility uh yesterday uh

with zero cobit outbreaks we have a huge

stack of paperwork it’s voluntary

contact tracing system we put it into

place we’ve sent out the invite for

anybody to come look at it and see how

many grandmas we killed but

uh we have it just a bunch of happy

healthy smiling people coming through

our gym every single day and um got a

lot to unravel in the courts but that is

the the short version surprisingly

well and it is complicated i saw you

first on tucker and and trust me when

this all broke out being someone who

used to work for the fda

and uh us department of health and human

services as an agent so i got to see a

lot more than a lot of other people did

and i’m a health you know i’ve been the

health world for decades and i just as

soon as it hit i had the same questions

you did and being on the inside my

[ __ ] meter went off immediately

and i used to work and deal with the

drug companies all the time so i knew

i knew what their main uh objective is

and it’s to make money has nothing to do

with health money absolutely yeah

their business model is to keep you on

their model until the day you die that’s

their model

you know they want they need

they need a subscription-based kind of

plan to to make sure that they can

maximize profits

you know that’s

that’s what honestly and and frank

amazingly um again he’s got he’s got a

mind that

is uh is pretty incredible you know when

he started kind of connecting the dots

he

he pretty much called every move they’ve

made so far

[Music]

[Applause]

you

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