Flashback to a year ago when thousands of businesses were shut down by provincial health orders due to COVID-19, and a West Kelowna gym flexed its muscle.
After refusing an Interior Health (IH) order to close its doors Jan. 6, Iron Energy Gym was issued a fine by RCMP. Its business licence was also briefly suspended by the City of West Kelowna. The gym continued to keep its doors open and was issued tickets every day for the following three weeks.
Management and customers had been vocal in their displeasure, on social media, of the ban on indoor gatherings and fitness centres issued by the province on Dec. 22, 2021.
Co-owner Brian Mark stated at the time that he would hold provincial health officials personally responsible for any financial losses. Gym members then started a fundraiser to help pay for lawyers and fines.
On Jan. 20, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry took what she called “the cautious step” of reopening gyms and exercise facilities with capacity limits and the continued use of the B.C. vaccine card.
However, Iron Energy stated it would not check for passports or require customers to wear masks and continued to remain open.
“We’re trying to make a stand,” said general manager Kristy Gamblin. “The way that these mandates have been happening more so with gyms getting shut down, small businesses getting shut down for that matter it’s not just us. Plus not really having the science to back up as to why. We’re tired of it.”
The business was issued another closure order in early February.
In mid-February, IH was granted a court injunction requiring that the gym be forced to close its doors for up to six months. Iron Energy finally threw in the towel Feb. 22.
On April 8, the day the province lifted vaccine card and mask mandates, the gym reopened.
“After a long eight weeks we finally opened up our doors and we are open for business,” co-owner Brian Mack said in an Instagram post.
Iron Energy has been for sale on a commercial real estate website since Sept. 9.