VALATIE, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Rain or shine, locals still showed out to the first day of business for Club Life in Valatie. Despite an executive order to keep New York gyms and fitness centers closed to stop the spread of coronavirus, owner Alex Rosenstrach says he’s standing his ground.
“Myself and many other small business owners across the country feel that our civil rights have been stripped from us,” Rosenstrach explains to NEWS10’s Mikhaela Singleton.
He and his family held a small rally Monday as the gym’s official opening. Rosenstrach says he and his community members have every constitutional right to peaceably assemble.
He says Club Life is still not charging memberships thanks to the executive order, but starting Monday, there will be a “pay to play” operation. He claims the cleaning measures they’ve taken are enough to open safely.
“Any gym worth their salt is cleaning regularly. We have standards to clean all the time, now it’s just a lot more. We probably won’t be doing the full class schedule, the classes you can’t really social distance, but we’ve got signs everywhere, the cardio equipment is set up so people can only use every other one,” Rosenstrach says.
“Walmart isn’t disinfecting every product that everybody touches on the shelf. I’m not afraid, I’m still shopping, but we are actually disinfecting everything. You’re much further away from people in here then you would be standing in line waiting for your takeout food, shoulder to shoulder with God knows how many other people,” he goes on to say. “You’ve got 10 or 15 people in here working on their health, improving their immune system? Yeah, I think that’s way better.”
Law enforcement is already investigating a complaint against Club Life. The Town of Kinderhook sent a code enforcement officer to inspect the facility Monday morning.
Town Supervisor Patsy Leader says although she understands small business owners frustration, it’s not an excuse to ignore public safety.
“I certainly understand the position of the Club Life owner to want to reopen. I understand everybody’s getting frustrated, myself included. I encourage the community to exercise their first amendment rights to gather; however, we have to be safe and smart an care about one another, not just for our own selves,” Leader explains.
“We have to remember that we have to keep people safe. Right now we have the highest [coronavirus] numbers in the county. We are scared. We need to be safe, we need to protect, and be smart,” she goes on to say.
Code Enforcement Officer Wayne Voss says following the inspection of Club Life, the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office and DA are now involved. He says repercussions could mean anything from an order to rectify to taking Rosenstrach to court. The investigation is open and ongoing.
Rosenstrach himself says he would make his own call to law enforcement.
“Support your people, support the people that love you. Uphold that oath. We need you right now more than ever,” he says.
Rosenstrach also clarified somewhat controversial statements he made on the public Club Life Facebook page calling the “China virus” a “planned sabotage on our nation”. He says he had no racially motivated intentions behind the language, but stands by his statement.
“My best friend is Chinese-Japanese American, and he thinks it’s crazy too. He said call it the China virus, call it the Kung-Fu virus if you want, but it’s still a crazy situation. China is a place. I think the Chinese people are wonderful and racism and the way they are portrayed is awful. Now the Chinese Communist Party, no, I believe they are horrible, they’re failing their own people, and yeah this pandemic — or plan-demic as I think we’re in that place now — you know, I just think there’s much bigger things going on here, probably above my pay grade, but yeah, that’s what I have to say about that,” he says.