New Jersey gym owner offers free memberships to unvaccinated people

FILE - In this May 18, 2020, file photo, Atilis Gym co-owner Ian Smith speaks with supporters...
FILE - In this May 18, 2020, file photo, Atilis Gym co-owner Ian Smith speaks with supporters outside his gym in Bellmawr, N.J.(AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)
Published: Mar. 25, 2021 at 12:09 PM EDT
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BELLMAWR, N.J. (Gray News) - A New Jersey gym owner who gained notoriety for resisting shutdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic claims he will give away free gym memberships to those who choose not to get a vaccine for the virus.

The Atilis Gym Bellmawr owner Ian Smith tweeted Tuesday he would offer the deal after Krispy Kreme announced it was offering a free glazed doughnut for anyone who shows a vaccination card.

Smith’s announcement led to a mixed reaction, as some criticized what they feel is encouraging the further spread of the virus. Some of his supporters have backed his continued resistance to state regulations.

The owner gained attention in 2020 for defying state orders to have gyms closed. His supporters have raised nearly $500,000 toward legal fees through an online fundraiser. reported in December that New Jersey is looking to collect $124,000 in fines from the gym. Smith said he refused to pay the state.

Smith has also been outspoken against New Jersey’s mask mandates.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests social distancing, wearing masks and proper handwashing as steps to stop the spread of COVID-19. The CDC’s new guidelines state it is safe for those who are fully vaccinated to gather indoors with others who have also received the vaccines.

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