One of the first people to defy St. Louis County orders says he’d do it again

FOX Files

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – One of the first businesses to defy St. Louis County lockdown orders is a gym owner who is currently allowed to remain open but with limitations.

Joe Corbett owns two House of Pain gyms, one in Chesterfield and the other in Maryland Heights. Both are allowed to remain open under current restrictions as long as they don’t exceed 25 percent capacity. Members must also wear masks.

“It’s not going to stop me from working out,” member Ryan Conner said.

Conner said he has no problem wearing a mask if that’s what he has to do to keep coming to the gym.

“I don’t go to the bars or go out, so the biggest thing for me is coming here; seeing the people I see every day, enjoying myself, staying fit, staying healthy,” he said.

Corbett said the members are engaged.

“So, everyone wants the gym to succeed. They’re going to do whatever it takes to make that happen,” he said. “We’re going to comply because we want to be open and that’s the message we’ve sent to our members.”

Corbett faced orders to shut down in the spring under St. Louis County’s previous lockdown. He fought the order, along with legal threats for weeks, before a judge ruled against him.

Corbett said he’d do it again, even though he eventually had to completely close for a while.

“I think our fight was good because we were heard; not because they wanted to hear us but because they had to,” he said.

Corbett described his fight in the spring as a different battle than we’re currently seeing from St. Louis County restaurants. He said the restaurants, “…really have it together it seems like from the outside. They’re going about this in the right way. In the fitness community, we didn’t really have that. I was just kind of standing alone and actually kind of fighting against some of the people in our own community.”

Open gyms during this second lockdown haven’t come without controversy.

The Pointe at Ballwin Commons has sent out two notices to members in two days about people who have tested positive for COVID-19.

The notices alert members about two cases impacting classes that met two different days last week.

The City of Ballwin told FOX 2: “The cases associated with the Pointe to-date are not cases of transmission within the recreation center, but rather individuals who have it and enter the facility while asymptomatic. Regardless, it is our responsibility and policy to conduct contact tracing and notify any member and staff who might have come into contact with these individuals in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.”

Corbett said they’ve heard of no cases at his gyms, but he agrees with informing people.

“We would definitely make our members aware for sure,” he said.

Corbett’s not the only one trying to avoid that, as we could also see members sterilizing the tools they know are there for their health.

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