Who is Ian Smith? NJ gym owner who defied lockdown offers free memberships for not taking Covid-19 vaccine

The owners of the Atilis Gym is engaged in a public fight to keep the fitness center open last year amid the coronavirus pandemic, holding indoor workouts against the state's orders

                            Who is Ian Smith? NJ gym owner who defied lockdown offers free memberships for not taking Covid-19 vaccine
Ian Smith plans to reward patrons of his gym who opt not to receive a Covid-19 vaccination with free memberships (Instagram via iansmithfitness)

The owner of a gym in Bellmawr, Camden County, in New Jersey announced that the Atilis Gum will give out free memberships to anyone who does not receive a Covid-19 vaccine. Ian Smith had previously defied New Jersey's pandemic restrictions last year when they refused to follow Governor Phil Murphy's Covid-19 shutdown order.

The owners of the Atilis Gym is engaged in a public fight to keep the fitness center open last year amid the coronavirus pandemic, holding indoor workouts against the state's orders, since early July 2020, after having first reopened on May 18, defying the state's business shutdown orders. The gym remained open for three days before it was shut down by state health officials, prompting a legal battle.


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After defying New Jersey's coronavirus restrictions, Superior Court Judge Robert Louge ruled that the owners, Ian Smith and Frank Trumbetti, must pay nearly $124,000 in fines for the action. Lougy also ruled that for every day the gym remained open amid restrictions, the owners would be fined another $15,500. The ruling also allowed the state to implement a barricade to the gym's entrance "as expeditiously as possible."



At the time, Camden County health inspectors had found that the gym failed to provide staff with gloves and masks, exceeded capacity limits and did not implement social distancing. According to reports, the gym had covered its windows, blocking anyone from seeing into the building from outside.

Now, Smith has racked up more controversy by tweeting in response to Krispy Kreme's offer of free doughnuts to those who get vaccinated, saying that his gym would offer free memberships to those who do not receive the vaccine. Smith tweeted, "In light of @krispykreme giving free donuts for receiving the CVD shot, here at @TheAtilisGym we are giving out free memberships to all who don’t get vaccinated. We believe in health - the real way - exercise, good diet, plenty of Vitamin D, Zinc, and an environment to destress."





Many responded to Smith's tweet, calling him out. One user wrote, "This is reckless and irresponsible. It’s disappointing to see those throughout the country who actively discourage the #covidvaccine. We know it saves lives. With it, we can #makecovidhistory." Another tweeted, "You're an idiot. Over 545K are dead from this virus and you're trying to fool everyone into thinking you care about their "health"." A user wrote, "Kills a kid in a drunk driving accident, defies government orders and opens gym during shut down and now this...disgusting!"






Smith has regularly appeared on Fox News in Tucker Carlson's segment, in his first time last year he said on the show in response to Carlson asking about defying coronavirus restrictions, "My business partner and I have plans to keep people safe. So far, we think this is a gross violation of Constitutional rights. The Fourteenth Amendment states that no state shall pass any law that infringes on the rights of citizens.”

Smith even started a GoFundMe page for the Atilis Gym, stating, "because Atilis Bellmawr has not been in operation for a full-year and does not have a full-time staff, we do not qualify for any bailout money from the government. In addition, our landlord and other service providers are not providing any additional relief to offset the effects of the shutdown."

Earlier this month, Smith was temporarily banned from American Airlines after he refused to wear a mask on his flight from a conservative political conference in Orlando. He was part of the CPAC panel about the confiscation of private property. New Jersey 101.5 reported that American Airlines said in a statement that Smith would not be permitted to travel on the airlines while its face-covering policy is in place.

Smith is an ex-convict, having been convicted of killing a teenager in a drunk-driving crash in 2007. 19-year-old Kevin Ade was killed when he was heading south on Vienna Avenue, when Smith, traveling west on Liebig failed to stop at a stop sign and slammed into the driver's side door of Ade's car. Ade was pronounced dead at the scene and an autopsy revealed that he died from multiple traumatic injuries. Smith was sentenced in 2008 to five and a half years in prison after pleading guilty to vehicular homicide. He was also charged with possession of marijuana and hypodermic needles.



In a video posted to Instagram last year, Smith addressed the incident, saying, "My actions caused the death of a young man and broke the hearts of an entire community. And that’s something that they’ll never fully ever recover from, and there’s nothing that I can do other than try to live a good life and give back and promote as much love and positivity in the world as I can.” Smith also said that he was unaware he had alcohol in his system on the day of the accident.

However, Ade's family is still mourning. Ade's cousin, Jimmy Connolly told New Jersey 101.5, "I think a lot of us had forgiven what he's done ... enough to get our own peace from it. What hurts from it now and makes it fresh is that he clearly did not learn a thing."

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