Maybe you won’t feel that sad about the closing of Tilton Fitness, since it’s not a little family business. The gym chain, with seven locations across New Jersey, is owned by Hackensack Meridian fitness and wellness, the New Jersey health care giant.

But still, what about the 20,000 New Jerseyans who worked out and maintained their health there?

Choosing a gym is a very personal decision. It has to be easy to get to and meet your fitness needs, and the atmosphere and workout environment have to make you feel comfortable enough to keep you motivated to go. But make no bones about it — this one is Gov. Phil Murphy’s fault. Because unless he can prove otherwise, it seems that he has made the arbitrary decision to leave gym openings for last of all New Jersey businesses.

While he did announce that personal training could resume, that’s small comfort to gym owners across the state that are waiting to open up again, both to serve their communities as well as to feed their families. It’s been my contention that the Attilas Gym owners’ decision to open last month against Murphy’s orders, along with the associated protest that ensued, made the governor less likely to push gyms to the top of the list of business openings. He’s proven many times that he will dole out swift and severe punishment to those who dare to defy him and now it’s Tilton Fitness’ turn to suffer the consequences. “It brings us no joy to say that,” Murphy said of the closures, according to an article on NJ.com.

I’m not convinced. Why do I feel like it does give him a teeny-weeny bit of joy? Murphy continued, “We would love to be able to open (fitness centers) up. We just are not there yet. We just don’t think it’s the responsible thing to do.” Based on what? Other indoor recreational facilities like museums, aquariums, bowling alleys, batting cages, shooting ranges and arcades have opened. Leaving gyms closed is illogical.

According to the piece, Sam Young, CEO of Hackensack Meridian Fitness & Wellness, announced the closing on the Tilton Fitness website, saying, “Unfortunately, like other fitness centers across the country, our facilities have been hit hard by the mandatory closures due to the coronavirus pandemic, forcing us to make this difficult decision.” Tilton had facilities in Brick, Edgewater, Galloway, Hazlet, Jackson, Manahwakin and Northfield and a new one was slated to open in Atlantic City.

Would having allowed Tilton to open two or three weeks ago have saved it from its sad fate? Who knows. But if a fitness center backed by a huge health conglomerate can’t make it work, imagine what the little guy is feeling like right now. So maybe you won’t feel bad for Tilton fitness, but the next business the Governor might be coming for could be yours.

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Judi Franco. Any opinions expressed are Judi's own.

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