WILSON, N.C. (WNCN) — Several gym owners across the state are defying Gov. Cooper’s order and re-opening. Victory Fitness, a 24-hour gym in Wilson, is among them.
Neil Strother, the owner of Victory Fitness, found himself in a tough position Wednesday when he learned his gym wouldn’t be allowed to re-open Friday as part of Phase Two.
“First reaction was devastation. Not even anger, just devastation,” he said.
He’s spent money cleaning and painting the place, believing he’d make it back when his members paid their monthly dues. After going two months without any income, he’d finally be able to get back on track.
“There’s no one I can call, there’s nobody I can do anything to? There’s no one I can appeal to. And I thought I’m done,” Strother said.
The governor scaled back Phase Two, arguing fitness centers presented a greater threat to the spread of COVID-19. People in close proximity for a prolonger period of time.
Despite that, Strother and his wife chose to re-open Friday.
Members swipe to get in.
His gym has more than 12,000 square feet. Their capacity is nearly 300 people. Since re-opening, he said there haven’t been more than 25 people at one time.
“Someone can walk in our door spend an hour working out and never touch anything they don’t have an opportunity to personally spray and disinfect themselves,” Strother said.
Wilson police have called Strother. First they urged him not to re-open. Officers have since stopped by at least twice. Strother said members have told him, but he hasn’t been at the gym at the time.
“Just have to be aware of your surroundings and distance from others,” Jabari Sessoms, a Victory Fitness member said.
“We have to realize it’s not going anywhere, it’s going to be here,” Preston Diggs, a Victory Fitness member said.
Strother said he will be a plaintiff in a lawsuit filed Tuesday, fighting the governor’s order.