South Bay gym operates indoors in defiance of health orders

A gym in East San Jose is facing half a million dollars in fines for violating Santa Clara County’s health order. County officials said the gym has been operating indoors for months even during the stay at home order.

There are signs posted on the front door of the gym that states it’s peacefully protesting. The gym manager said if the liquor store is deemed essential so is exercise. Meantime, the county has received dozens of complaints including from one gym member.

Driving by California Ripped Fitness in East San Jose, it’s obvious the gym is operating indoors. Members are on cardio machines and weight lifting, going in and out, which technically isn't permitted in the county’s purple tier status.

Dr. Robert Truong is a member.

"They are defying the COVID-19 compliance," said Truong. "The owner basically refuses to close the gym. He said even if the government sends the National Guard down, he still won’t close the gym."

Dr. Truong said he hasn’t gone to the gym since the pandemic began yet the gym is still charging him. Even if he wasn’t a member, he said it’s concerning because many of the gym's clients are Latinx.

"This gym is located in East San Jose and as we know the Latino population has been hit hardest by the pandemic and this gym could be a possible super spreader," said Dr. Truong.

"There have been a couple of notices of violation that have been issued under the health order," said James Williams, County Counsel of Santa Clara County.

So far, Santa Clara County has received 35 complaints since December. Enforcement officers have visited the gym seven times and after several warnings, the gym has accrued $550,000 in fines.

"What’s disappointing is that people would put others at this kind of risk," said Williams.

KTVU tried to talk to the owner, but he declined our request. There are signs pointed on the gym’s front door that state the gym is protesting, invoking its constitutional rights. The gym questions why exercise and healthy living are deemed non-essential.

A gym manager also said masks are required at all times. There are no group classes, no one-on-one training, the sauna is turned off. The manager said the owner can’t afford to shut down again.

"24 Hour Fitness is closed," said Dr. Truong. "They should close their doors as well to do their part in the community. Other businesses are hurting. It doesn’t give them an excuse financially to remain open."

The gym manager said the owner plans to fight the fines. County officials will explore other options if necessary including heading to court.