California Gym Owner Arrested For Reopening Prematurely

Gyms — both jiu-jitsu and otherwise — are beginning to reopen across the world, and not all of the openings are in compliance with government COVID-19 regulations. The Rice Brothers Academy made the news after defying the California government’s orders to stay closed, and now, a non-BJJ gym is suffering the consequences for doing the same.

Metroflex Oceanside, which is a traditional bodybuilding/strength and conditioning gym, reopened for business despite the fact that the stage 3 opening phase hasn’t yet taken effect. Friday, the gyms owner, Lou Uridel, was arrested and cited for opening up too early, and he says that he was warned that he and his clients could be arrested if the gym reopens again before the state moves into the stage 3 opening phase.

“They decided to come and arrest me and shut us down. They did threaten if we reopen that they would arrest every single member in the gym who is working out and cite them with the same citations,” Uridel told KUSI News.

He also shared his continued desire to keep the gym open while expressing his concerns for his clients who could be arrested if they show up to work out at the gym prematurely.

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“My number one priority to do this was for my members and for my community and to keep my business open and running so I can feed my family but the last thing I want 20 or 25 members get hauled off, all getting arrested.  A lot of our members are marines and if you’re familiar with the service records, if they have criminal offenses against them, that can be detrimental to their career. We are going to have a rally on Wednesday here at noon. Celebrity fitness people will be there  and other who want to come and support,” he told the news outlet. He said he is speaking to lawyers to figure out possible solutions.

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While the affected gym isn’t connected to the martial arts world, the news reflects a reality that could very well happen to jiu-jitsu and other combat sports academies if they reopen prior to getting the OK from their respective governments. Given how many jiu-jitsu practitioners also attend “regular” gyms for their strength and conditioning, the fact that customers are also at risk of getting arrested for working out is also notable for our community.

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