St. Louis County gyms not backing down despite orders to close

FOX Files

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – St. Louis County warned a chain of local gyms to cease operating. The gym won’t back down.

Fox 2 first told you about the gym opening Tuesday. The Maryland Heights location is in a strip mall on Dorsett and McKelvey, where the anchor stores are open and busy. On one side of the gym you’ll find Dobbs Tire & Auto, which is deemed essential. On the other side of the gym is Ace Hardware, which is also deemed essential by the health department.

House of Pain Gym sees no reason why the government can pick and choose and force it to close.

Attorney Chris McDonough, who represents the gym, is incensed by what he sees as hypocrisy.

“You can buy your lottery tickets – apparently those are essential. You can buy a 12 pack of your favorite beer – apparently that’s essential. And you can buy cigarettes – those are essential! How many hundreds of thousands of people every year do cigarettes kill and does secondhand smoke kill?” he said.

McDonough says St. Louis County sent sheriff’s deputies to both House of Pain gyms with letters to shut down or face up to one year in jail and a $2,000 fine.

“After this letter was delivered, the government agents, apparently from the sheriff’s department, sat outside the gym, outside in the parking lot, for the rest of the afternoon,” he said.

Neither location will bend, according to McDonough. Gym owner Joe Corbett talked to us Tuesday about how he believes he can keep people distanced and sanitized as good as anyone, while improving their health.

“People who are not fit, they are obese, they have underlying health conditions. And, I get it, if you fit in one of those demographics you’re going to have a very bad, possible fatal outcome,” Corbett said. “That’s tragic every time it happens, but these gyms are giving people – they provide a valuable service where people can actually stay fit.”

McDonough says anyone operating a legal business should be considered essential.

“They’re certainly essential to the employees who depend on those essential businesses for essential jobs, essential paychecks to buy essential things like food – and I guess if you’re in St. Louis County – your liquor and cigarettes,” he said.

St. Louis County declined to comment beyond its warning letter to the gym. A county spokesperson says they will review the gym’s response and decide on the next steps soon.

St. Louis County warning le… on Scribd

House of Pain Gym responds … on Scribd

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