Despite the order to close almost two weeks ago, numerous LA County gyms remain open despite state and regional guidelines, the NBC4 I team learned.
"It's a recipe for disaster. You risk people's lives," said Sherri Box, an enthusiastic athlete, until the pandemic started. Box made the comments to the I team after looking into the Crunch Fitness windows in Northridge this week and training dozens of people, many without masks.
"I couldn't believe it! I looked in the window and it looked like a big party in Miami or South Beach," said Box.
The LA County Health Department announced on Thursday that it has closed three gyms that have been closed since the order of July 13 was issued. However, the I team documented many that are still open, including four crunch locations in Van Nuys, Lakewood, Northridge, and Chatsworth, and the Zoo Culture Gym in Woodland Hills.
The health department announced that it would first issue warnings before closing gyms.
"All of this is really a balancing act and trying to do what it takes to ensure compliance, but we also want to work with companies to make sure of that," said Dr. Muntu Davis, LA Public Health Officer.
Some gyms informed the I team that they did not intend to close.
"We are not planning to close the company," a membership consultant named CJ at Crunch Northridge told an I-Team reporter.
"We don't plan to close at all," said CJ.
"The health department is completely negligent in what it does by allowing these gyms to stay open," athlete Sherri Box told the I team. "You should turn them off! Send law enforcement officers in. Lock the doors. Turn off the power!"
In fact, on Thursday afternoon at 4 p.m., just an hour after the I team documented Crunch Fitness employees in Chatsworth, officials showed up and turned off the electricity for the entire building, accidentally disconnecting three other neighboring companies, including a chiropractor, and Arlett’s restaurant that prepared take-out meals.
"We're struggling to survive," said Arletts co-owner Leslie Kaz. "Destroying everyone's livelihood because one person didn't do something doesn't make sense to me," Kaz told the I team.
The I team tried to get a comment from crunch locations in our history but received no response. Zoo Culture did not answer the phone today, even though it was open.
Entrepreneurs ask for compassion during the pandemic. Joel Grover reported on NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, July 22, 2020.