Despite orders to close down almost two weeks ago, numerous gyms in LA County remain open in defiance of state and county directives, the NBC4 I-Team has learned.
"It’s a recipe for disaster. They're risking people's lives," said Sherri Box, an avid gym goer until the pandemic began. Box made the comments to the I-Team after looking in the windows of Crunch Fitness in Northridge this week and seeing dozens of people working out, many without masks.
"I couldn’t believe it! I looked inside the window and it looked like a big party in Miami or South Beach," Box said.
The LA County Health Department said Thursday it has closed three gyms that remained open since issuing an order July 13 to immediately close down. But the I-Team documented many that are still open, including four Crunch locations in Van Nuys, Lakewood, Northridge and Chatsworth, and Zoo Culture Gym in Woodland Hills.
The health department said it first issues warnings before shutting down gyms.
"All this is really a balancing act, and trying to do what's needed to ensure compliance, but we also want to work with businesses to ensure this happens," said LA County Public Health Officer Dr. Muntu Davis.
Some gyms told the I-Team they have no intention of closing down.
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"We don't have any plan to close down," a membership advisor named CJ at Crunch Northridge told an I-Team reporter.
"We're not planning on closing at all," CJ said.
"The health department is completely negligent in what they’re doing, by allowing these gyms [to stay] open," gym goer Sherri Box told the I-Team. "They should shut ‘em down! Send law enforcement in. Lock the doors. Turn the power off!"
In fact, Thursday afternoon at 4 p.m., just an hour after the I-Team documented people working out at Crunch Fitness in Chatsworth, officers showed up and turned off the power to the entire building, which inadvertently shut off power to three other adjacent businesses, including a chiropractor, and Arlett's Restaurant, which was making takeout meals.
"We're struggling to survive," said Arlett's co-owner Leslie Kaz. "To destroy the livelihood of everybody, because one person was not doing something, doesn't make sense to me," Kaz told the I-Team.
The I-Team attempted to get a comment from Crunch locations in our story but didn't hear back. Zoo Culture didn't answer their phone today, despite being open.