Oceanside Gym Owner Explains Refusal to Comply with Shut Down Order

"We have no COVID cases, yet we're being punished like we're an outbreak central," the MetroFlex Gym Owner, Lou Uridel, said

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MetroFlex Gym in Oceanside is still open after the county ordered it to shut down immediately Friday.

The order came after two COVID-19 outbreaks were reported at gyms operating in violation of San Diego County’s public health order.

MetroFlex Gym has been on the county’s radar since April. Gym owner Lou Uridel said he’s working with the county, but plans on keeping his doors open.

“It’s extremely stressful, but it is a battle that I picked to fight,” Uridel said.

He’s been fighting to stay open since May when he was cited and arrested for refusing to shut down during the first round of closures ordered by the county. A few days after the arrest, Uridel was back in business.

According to Uridel, Oceanside police officers drive by to check-in almost every day, including during an interview with NBC 7 Monday morning.

“I kind of feel like I’m on a first-name basis with the police,” Uridel joked.

Uridel admits officers warned him about the immediate shutdown order a few weeks back and asked him to voluntarily close, but he did not. A county representative said MetroFlex is not supposed to be operating until a Safe Reopening Plan is submitted and approved by the county.

“It’s (his reopening plan) not been approved yet, but the county is understanding of the process, so from my understanding, we’re not going to get a heavy hammer dropped on us until this whole process is over and then they’ll evaluate it,” Uridel said.

The county is expected to evaluate his Safe Reopening Plan, which includes new outdoor operations, plus an indoor “wellness center."

“We have a nutrition shop inside. We sell supplements, that’s allowed, we have meal delivery services,” Uridel explained.

He said before introducing the wellness center, he feels he was still operating safely by requiring physical distancing and enhanced sanitation protocols inside the gym. He said he’s frustrated to see outbreaks at other gyms.

“That put every gym on the chopping block and that’s what I don’t like about these plans. Everyone should be judged on an individual basis,” said Uridel.

He said he’s working on getting the county’s stamp of approval by Thursday.

“I’m not doing this in defiance. I’m not doing this to thumb up at the county. I do believe I am working in good graces with the county, that’s why I am not closing down,” said Uridel.

He said members who are at risk of falling back into drug addiction, or who suffer from PTSD, rely on the support and comradery at MetroFlex.

“There’s so much at stake right now other than catching COVID-19, there are people committing suicide, overdosing on drugs, it was at that moment I realized this is a far bigger picture than me and my business,” said Uridel.

He said he plans on expanding outdoor operations into the parking lot to allow for more members to workout outside.

A county representative told NBC 7, they have not received Uridel’s Safe Reopening Plan and that the county is in contact with Uridel and his attorney.  

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