Portsmouth gym continues to operate despite police intervention

Portsmouth

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — It’s been three months since many of us have stepped foot inside a gym.

But for the members of Crossfit Slice off High Street in Portsmouth, many of whom are military or military spouses, they’ve been back at it for several weeks despite current restrictions.

“It was a sigh of relief basically, probably the most overjoyed moment that I had, so I had my outlet back,” said gym member Kristina Thompson.

It’s a decision the co-owners still stand by, as they’ve made group classes smaller and sanitized more than ever before.

“I’m absolutely willing to get arrested for this,” said co-owner Jeff Etter.

Portsmouth Police have visited the gym twice since co-owners Etter and Justin Edelman began ignoring restrictions.

The rules and regulations set forth by Executive Order 61 state that fitness and exercise facilities can only operate activities if they are held outdoors.

“If that liquor store operates outside only, I’ll close my gym or operate outside only,” said Etter.

Etter says when police visited the first time, they were asked to move their workouts outside to comply.

But he says their insurance won’t cover it if someone gets hurt while outside.

The second time police came to Crossfit Slice, Etter claims four officers barged into the business — some in tactical gear — and it was intimidating.

Portsmouth Police say the goal of the contact was to ensure that the owner was aware that his actions were not in compliance.

Officials say they didn’t issue a summons or arrest the owners for the violation.

The co-owners say this is not about them, but about their members who need to work out for their physical and mental health.

“If we were to comply with the governor’s orders — and we’re talking about the same governor who just this past weekend before he did this order was seen at the Oceanfront with no mask, no social distancing, right — I think we need to address that why is that OK, but it’s not OK to come in here and be healthy and be fit and live your best life?” Etter said.

Police say they will continue to educate and remind their businesses of the current restrictions and ask for voluntary compliance.  

Etter says they’re still trying to figure out how they are going to run their gym — but again, they don’t plan on closing.

He also recently put up a covering on the windows so those who aren’t members can’t see into the building.


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