'Our backs are against the wall’: Riverside gym owner defies Gov. Newsom’s order to reclose

A gym owner in Riverside is taking a defiant stance against Gov. Gavin Newsom’s latest order to reclose, saying the governor's order is unconstitutional and that he's fighting for his rights. 

Newsom announced a revised Stay-at-Home order Monday that called for the re-closure of indoor operations at businesses in most of California including fitness centers, hair salons, places of worship, and barbershops for 30 counties on the state’s monitoring list.

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Many small business owners are furious, including Mike Ends, the owner of Fitness Mania in Riverside County.

Ends has decided to keep Fitness Mania's doors open. 

"We decided to do it not only for the community, but we’re also building a larger facility right across the street that opens in about 15 days. Our backs are against the wall and the last shut down almost crippled me. I just can’t do another shutdown. I just refuse. It’s not right, it’s not constitutional and we’re standing up for our rights," Ends said. 

He recalled how he was impacted during the last shutdown and lost an estimated 2,000 members. 

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"It was really hard because they shut us down for three months and we actually stayed open for a couple days after the last closure and then we ended up having to close. I closed for a bunch of other reasons, mostly construction across the street. I needed to see that move forward and now that it’s in the end stages, we know that we’re there. The last one did cripple us and we were lucky enough to get that protection program. That kept our employees paid and our instructors paid, but it didn’t do anything for the business itself,” he explained.

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Some goers were seen without a mask or gloves on. Ends said the gym equipment is sanitized constantly and they haven’t had a single known case of COVID-19.

Ends added that if people have the right to protest he should be able to keep his gym open. 

"A couple weeks ago, you guys didn’t say one word when everyone was rioting and looting the streets with chaos and destroying our country. I didn’t hear one person say any negative thoughts about masks and protections but now someone that’s operating their business and feeding their family…that’s when you guys have a problem with it," Ends said.

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Ends added that if any of his members tested COVID-19 positive, they would inform him. 

Fitness Mania member Austin Brown said the gym has served as a stress reliever. 

"If you’re feeling ok and you gotta workout and get stress out, especially with all the stuff going on right now. It’s probably pretty important for you," Brown said. 

Newsom has not announced a tentative reopening date for gyms and other businesses. 

"Stay home, stay safe. That’s the great thing about America...nobody is forcing you to come outside," Ends said.

The gym owner said he's ready to face any backlash or repercussions for his decision to remain open.