East San Jose's California Ripped Fitness gym has closed its indoor operations after accruing nearly $1 million in fines for defying Santa Clara County's health orders. (Photo via Thomas Hawk/Flickr)

COVID-19 closures have forced many businesses to shutter their doors, and gyms are no exception.

But an East San Jose gym, California Ripped Fitness, has defied those orders for nearly two months as an act of peaceful protest. The gym was not hiding its health order violations either.

Signs on their windows read: “We are exercising our constitutional rights to peacefully protest … that health clubs and exercise are essential.”

Another sign on the gym’s window says that their right to protest and stay open is protected by the First Amendment and Fifth Amendment, respectively.

“No government, state or county can violate our constitutional rights, nor can they punish, fine or cite us contradicting the constitution we’re protected by,” the sign read. “Property and businesses are protected by the 5th amendment.”

But, after accruing nearly $1 million in fines, dozens of complaints in about two months and a recent Notice of Violation from Santa Clara County’s Public Health Department, the gym has finally agreed to close its doors temporarily.

California Ripped Fitness submitted a compliance statement this week that indicated they are no longer operating indoors and will comply with health orders, according to the county.

In a statement, the county said that it “pleased that California Ripped Fitness has decided to come into compliance, and we will be working with them on an agreement to resolve the outstanding fines.”

Since December, the county has done several site visits and cited the gym for operating indoors, failing to follow social distancing protocols and failing to require the use of face coverings.

In addition, the gym is located in one of the COVID-19 hotspots in the county. Its ZIP code, 95121, has a COVID-19 case rate of 8,228 cases per 100,000 residents.

The ZIP code with the highest COVID-19 case rate in the county is the neighboring 95122 with 13,098 cases per 100,000 residents, according to the county’s data dashboard.

The county said other gyms have received Notices of Violations after violating local and state health orders, but “have been successful bringing them into compliance.”

“However … Most gyms have been operating in compliance with the state and local Orders,” the county said.

If the gym should reopen again in violation of the public health orders, they will be subject to additional fines and potential court action.

California Ripped Fitness did not respond to requests for comment.