Local gym owner facing fines, threatened with jail time for opening his business early

HERMITAGE, Pa. — A local gym owner is facing fines and even the threat of jail time for opening his business early.

“This is the only source of income that I have because of that and I have no other choice but to reopen the gym back up,” said gym owner Joe Joseph.

Joseph is risking jail time to keep his business alive. On May 8, P.R.E.P. Training & Fitness Systems was cited by the Hermitage police department for violating the governor’s order.

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“Hermitage police showed up in full force with the chief and with the district attorney to issue me two summary citations,” Joseph said.

Joseph’s gym was cited for violating administrative code and in violation of the Disease Prevention and Control law, violations that could cost him up to $400.

He was given a choice: close down and they would leave without citing his business, or they would continue to issue citations if he chose to stay open. Joseph said he could face jail time in less than a month if he doesn’t cooperate and shut his business down.

But Joseph said he has no choice. If his business remains closed, he won’t have a business to come back to. Right now, he’s practicing safety guidelines at his gym and even offering gloves and masks.

Joseph said other businesses are doing the same thing.

Different hardware stores and big corporation’s stores are selling their lawn and garden products against the government mandate, but the police come and shut down the local nursery because they’re selling the same products.

While Joseph said some critics are out there, he’s gaining support from people from all over, including Ohio. Just the other day, a woman drove all the way from Pittsburgh to give him a $200 check and tell him she’s proud of what he’s doing.

But other gym owners say they’re following the governor’s guidelines, as painful as they may be. We spoke with Nick Alouise at Fit Body Boot Camp a few weeks ago, and on Monday we asked him what he thinks about Joseph’s gym being up and running.

“I really hope and truly believe that he’s probably going to follow every protocol that is from Governor Wolf. At the same time, I myself would like to play things at a safe place for now,” Alouise said.

The Mercer County district attorney told Channel 11 he will not prosecute Joseph, saying he has to give his attention to more serious crimes.