- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 10, 2017

An Atlanta gym is affirming its appreciation for law enforcement and the military after people started mistaking it for a nearby gym that bans police and service members.

Jim Chambers, owner of EAV Barbell Club in the city’s East Atlanta Village neighborhood, caused a social-media frenzy this week after declaring a ban on police and military members, calling his gym a safe space from “aggressive, hetero-jocks.”

Since then, Village Fitness, located about two blocks from EAV Barbell Club, has been getting flooded with angry calls by people mistaking it for Mr. Chambers‘ gym.

“I’m like, wait a second, that’s definitely not us,” Tara Perry of Village Fitness told local NBC affiliate WXIA. “We do not feel that way.”

In fact, Village Fitness offers discounts for local police and military members. On Wednesday, they posted a sign in front that clearly states, “We welcome and support our police and military.”

“When you think of an EV gym, people think of us — Village Fitness,” Ms. Perry said. “We’ve been here so long, we’re established with the community.”

Meanwhile, Mr. Chambers showed no signs of backing down from his no cops, no soldiers policy, though he did regret using profanity in a sign he posted in front of his gym that formerly read, “No f—g cops.”

“We wanted one space that was just a little different. It’s not an aggressive, hetero-jock space that’s dominated by cops and soldiers,” Mr. Chambers told WXIA in an earlier interview, adding that he views men in uniform as “an occupying enemy army.”

At least two police officers have reportedly challenged Mr. Chambers to a fight since his comments went viral.

Atlanta Police Officer Vincent Champion told WXIA that he’d like to set up a charity boxing match against Mr. Chambers in hopes of opening up a dialogue.

“Without talking to the man, this appears to be hate for law enforcement and for what reason? Are you doing something illegal?” Mr. Champion asked. “We will do our job. We’ve taken that job to serve and protect and we will do that no matter what you think of us.”

Officer Tommy Lefever said a boxing match could help bridge the gap between their conflicting viewpoints.

“I found, you sweat, you bleed with somebody, you exchange punches with somebody in a sport like boxing, it’s hard not to respect the guy for getting in there with you afterwards,” the Fayetteville, Georgia, resident told WXIA. “Gaining mutual respect for one another in the boxing ring might be the start of something that can help overcome differences in world view, ideology, what have you.”

Mr. Chambers reportedly laughed when WXIA told him about the officers’ challenges. He said he wanted to know if it would be a fair fight before he accepted.

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