IMPERIAL — Imperial’s 4:13 gym is seeking to reopen amid the COVID-19 and pleaded their case to reopen at 25 percent capacity with all precautions taken before the Imperial City Council during its usual meeting Thursday, August 6.

Co-owner Deuce Robertson says the 4:13 gym was established to help the Imperial Valley get healthy and excited about exercise. Since opening it has become a staple place for community members to work out and relieve stress, according to Robertson.

“I feel we have brought something to this County and community and we are trying to help with the obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and all these health issues that are plaguing the Imperial County right now,” said Robertson.

Since the COVID-19 lock down began, the gym has been closed. However, what was thought to have originally been just a 14-day closure turned into five months. Robertson said he is unsure they can recover from the extended closure unless the gym opens.

“The gym should not be nonessential; we should be 100 percent essential. We are 100 percent essential,” said Robertson, “and I think every business is 100 percent essential.”

A video was presented showing the precautions that 4:13 has already taken and will be taking when allowed to reopen, including wearing face coverings, social distancing, temperature testing at the door, and sanitation. Anyone who comes in with any symptoms will be asked to leave. There will be intermediate cleaning multiple times a day and deep cleaning daily. The ventilation system will bring in a constant stream of fresh air. Sweets Smoothies has been fitted with splash shields to maximize social distancing between the register and customers as well.

Robertson said the building owned by 4:13 has seven businesses that are all closed, including the gym, and two will likely not reopen.

Robertson said the gym needs to come up with another solution to the problem otherwise they will move to their Plan B, to move all their facilities to another state. Robertson said that is a last resort that 4:13 does not want to do.

Brendon Brown, founder of Reps for Vets, vouched for the need to have gyms for not just veterans, but for everyone. He said isolation is harmful for the community members.

Community members in support of the gym reopening sent emails to the City Council.

“It must reopen to provide a place for community members to progress in their goals and well being,” said Cindy Garcia.

“I need it for my mental health and to maintain my overall health due to have an autoimmune disease,” said Valerie Cornejo.

“During this pandemic I have been working every day and it’s been tough without the gym from a mental standpoint,” said Bobby Torres. “As an essential worker, the gym reopening would be a great stress reliever.”

“Having a gym to work out at is important. With everything going on in life right now, 4:13 is the cleanest facility in the County,” said Joel Gonzalez. “Let’s open our gym.”

If the council approves the opening at the next meeting, Mayor Darrell Pechtl said the City cannot protect the gym if Imperial County pushes for them to close, though he added they would be there to support them.

“We will fight for you and fight beside you, and not just you,” said Pechtl to Robertson. “This is not about just one gym; this is about every single business in Imperial that is not being allowed to make a living. It needs to change.”

Pechtl proposed that the council put to action the reopening of Imperial businesses — at the owners’ discretion — without county or state approval at the next City Council meeting, including the reopening of the 4:13 gym. Pechtl asked staff to bring the fiscal impact for “thumbing our nose at the governor” in two weeks if the City were to let the reopening happen. All members agreed.

The next Imperial City Council meeting will be Wednesday, August 19. Reopening the 4:13 gym will be on the agenda.

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