Fitness Prohibition: Reopening America Docuseries

When COVID-19 shut down America in March of 2020, I was lost, floundering with no direction. I was blessed to find one distraction - working out at a “speak-easy” gym. The Gym Vista is a small gym in southern CA that stayed open for a group of trusted members in defiance of the lockdowns. While big box stores barely adjusted their operations because there was no threat of closing, TG Vista was forced to deal with nosy neighbors reporting them, daily police visits, covert surveillance from city departments, and repeated death threats. 

I quickly realized how important it was to document those being hit hardest by the lockdowns. I wanted to share the story of what these small business owners were dealing with every day, so I began to create Fitness Prohibition. 

Around that time, another gym came to my attention - Louis Uridel was arrested at Metroflex Oceanside for defying the lockdown order. He was booked for multiple misdemeanors, and then released. 

In April I learned of Atilis Gym in Bellmawr, New Jersey and the feud which had developed with their Governor, Phil Murphy. I flew out as soon as I could schedule an interview with the owners, Frank Trumbetti and Ian Smith. I was surprised to learn that, despite developing an exceedingly comprehensive COVID safety plan, they were not given approval to open. They did anyway. 

Recently my story has expanded further to include restaurants, which have been hit equally hard by the forced closures. I sat down with Angela Marsden of Pineapple Hill Saloon in Los Angeles. While her small outdoor dining operation was shut down just days before Thanksgiving, a film production was allowed to set up outdoor dining for hundreds of crew members in the very same parking lot. It begged the question - what (or who?) deems a business essential? Angela reminded me that since the lockdowns began, hundreds of thousands of small businesses have been forced to close their doors forever. 

Small businesses are the backbone of America, and it is essential to me that these stories are told to expose a side of these lockdowns that many people may not know about. 

Your donation will help keep this project alive and make sure these important stories aren’t forgotten. I need your help to make sure this story gets told, to make sure every aspect gets written down in the history books our children will one day read. Please help me to shine the light on the lives of those who are being ignored by the media and simultaneously underserved by the very politicians who swore a solemn oath to protect them. 

Thank you so much for your time and consideration.


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Aaron Hill 
San Diego, CA
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