New Jersey Gym Owner Who Defied Lockdown Is Running for Congress

New Jersey Gym Owner Who Defied Lockdown Is Running for Congress
Ian Smith, co-owner of Atilis Gym in New Jersey, at a Freedom Plaza rally in Washington on Dec. 12, 2020. (The Epoch Times)
Lorenz Duchamps

A New Jersey gym owner who gained national attention for keeping his business open during Gov. Phil Murphy’s lockdown confirmed on Thursday he will be running for Congress.

Ian Smith, the co-owner of Atilis Gym in Bellmawr, said on a website promoting his campaign that he’s “truly excited to have the possibility to serve the people of [New Jersey] with a platform focused on liberty, small government, and America First policies.”

Smith will be running in the state’s 3rd Congressional District and challenge two-term Rep. Andy Kim, a Democrat. The 3rd District combines much of Burlington County and portions of the Jersey Shore region in Ocean County.

He formally declared his candidacy in Delran on Thursday—pledging to fight a number of government-imposed CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus mandates as a congressman and also limit illegal immigration and government spending.
“I will fight [COVID-19] mandates at the federal level as a congressman, and I will use my bully pulpit in Congress at the state and local level to help my constituents fight back,” he said, New Jersey Globe reported. “We must end mandates and embrace medical freedom.”

In his announcement, Smith also said he will stand for “people, not politicians.”

“For too long, good people have not gotten involved in politics—whether that is because the establishment won’t open the door for them or they don’t want to participate in the foul world of politics. More than anything, this needs to change. And I will be a part of that change,” Smith said.

Smith and his gym hit the headlines last year when the doors were locked and protesters gathered in support of the owners. The business’s attempts to remain open despite New Jersey’s extreme COVID-19 measures included heavy fines, arrest, and a suspension of the owner’s business license.

In December 2021, Smith said the gym was being fined $15,000 per day for being open against Murphy’s CCP virus mandates. The co-owner said at the time he had racked up more than $1.2 million in fines, but he didn’t intend to pay them.

Smith said the gym has a range of safety protocols in place, masks are optional, and the business hasn’t had a single case of COVID-19 traced back to the facility, despite more than 84,000 visits.

Epoch Times reporter Charlotte Cuthbertson contributed to this report.
Lorenz Duchamps is a news writer for NTD, The Epoch Times’ sister media, focusing primarily on the United States, world, and entertainment news.
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