Oxford gym gets written warning after defying state’s order and reopening

OXFORD, Mass. — An Oxford gym that reopened Monday despite a state order forbidding them to do so will be fined on Wednesday if it reopens again.

Prime Fitness & Nutrition Inc. owner Dave Blondin said his gym is the first in the state to reopen. He took to Facebook Sunday to announce his gym would be open to members and clients starting May 18, before the state’s reopening plan was even announced.

“I don’t believe it’s legal at all,” Blondin told Boston 25 News. “This is an order, and it should be more of a recommendation with safety measures.”

Under Gov. Charlie Baker’s guidelines, gyms and fitness centers would not be allowed to reopen until phase three of his plan – at least six weeks from now at the earliest.

Blondin said about 100 of his 800 clients stopped by the gym Monday, and he expects even more to work out Tuesday. He is encouraging other businesses to follow in his footsteps.

“I would like to call upon all the gyms in Massachusetts to do the same,” Blondin said in the video post. “Whether you’re big, whether you’re small, whether you’re a studio, whatever you are, start opening your doors. We’re all in this together. If Walmart - that’s right down the street - can sit there and have 356 cars in there, then we can work out.”

Blondin said he would be taking additional safety measures such as cleaning equipment every hour, limiting workouts to one hour at a time and forbidding guests. He is also limiting the number of people allowed inside to 25 people on each of the facility’s two floors.

“I hope to only have to do this for a short period of time and things can just go back to normal, but we have to start somewhere,” Blondin said. “By all means, if you do not want to come to the gym, don’t, but the majority of us need our sanity back.”

Blondin is also discouraging his clients from wearing masks inside. “Please for the love of God do not wear a mask in here,” he said. “I do not need people passing out because they can’t breathe!”

Boston 25 News spoke to a sergeant with the Oxford police Tuesday morning. He said officers would likely be stopping by the gym along with the town’s Board of Health.

Blondin said police and health officials gave him a verbal warning Monday and threatened to start fining him if he doesn’t close the gym. He said fines are not going to stop him from keeping his doors open. “If it takes going to court then I’ll go to court. I’ve already spoken to my attorney and we’re on the same page,” he said.

Blondin received a written warning Tuesday from the town’s health department and was told he will be fined Wednesday if he reopens, along with the potential for a future cease-and-desist order.

His decision to reopen is about more than just saving his business, Blondin said. “It’s been awful, I mean not only financially but, you know, seeing people’s mental health decline. I’ve had so many people that I’m very close with take up drinking again, or drugs, or anything along those lines because the gym is their outlet.”

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