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When Petty Tyrants Attack with Nick Koumalatsos | Starting Strength Radio #60

Mark Rippetoe | June 12, 2020

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Mark Wulfe:
From The Aasgaard Company studios in beautiful Wichita Falls, Texas... From the finest mind of the modern fitness industry... The one true voice in the strength and conditioning profession... The most important podcast on the internet... Ladies and gentlemen! Starting Strength Radio.

Mark Rippetoe:
Welcome to Starting Strength Radio. It's Friday. And what which means that it's not Saturday. It's Friday. And here we are again on Friday with Starting Strength Radio. Today we're sitting here with with Nick Koumalatsos. We have him as a guest. Today, we're going to talk about his very interesting situation.

Mark Rippetoe:
Those of you that are familiar with our situation here in Wichita Falls know that I never closed the gym even though I was ordered to close the gym. I just said, fuck it, I'm not going to close the gym, I'll pretend to be closed. But my calculus was my responsibility is to my members and my employees, not to the local government. So I've made the decision to stay open. And we did so responsibly, but we did so anyway. And Nick ran into quite a few more problems than I did.

Mark Rippetoe:
I asked Nick to be with us today because I wanted you guys to understand, those of you who watching Starting Strength radio. That there are a few of us in the gym business that actually take our responsibilities to you seriously. And Nick is one of these people thanks for being with us today, sir.

Nick Koumalatsos:
Thank you, sir. It is an absolute honor to be on here.

Mark Rippetoe:
Well, I appreciate your taking the time to sit down with us and discuss this situation. So why don't you just real quickly... But let's let's start.... Tell us a little bit about your club. You're in North Carolina. And how close are you - so we can get some geography here - how close are you to Raleigh and some of the more landmark areas?

Nick Koumalatsos:
So we're we're on the coast. We're smack dab in between Jacksonville, North Carolina andWilmington, North Carolina, two hours from Raleigh, four hours from Charlotte. A lot of people have heard of Surf City right here in North Carolina. Small little little beach town, but that's where we're at. Holly Ridge, North Carolina, is where where I have my business.

Mark Rippetoe:
And Holly Ridge is like. Twenty five hundred people. Right?

Nick Koumalatsos:
Two thousand five hundred ninety eight people.

Mark Rippetoe:
So how many how big is the county itself?

Nick Koumalatsos:
Onslow County. Last time I looked was one hundred ninety seven thousand.

Mark Rippetoe:
So you're at just a tiny little component of a much bigger. Metropolitan area. Sounds like.

Nick Koumalatsos:
Yeah, it's a big county, but it's real rural.

Mark Rippetoe:
It's spread out. So does your gym draw from that hundred ninety seven thousand or are you pretty much isolated there in Holly Ridge?

Nick Koumalatsos:
We're... We draw from that twenty five hundred.

Mark Rippetoe:
How many members do you have right now?

Nick Koumalatsos:
Total of around 400.

Mark Rippetoe:
Oh, that's pretty good. Out of twenty five hundred. That's that's. Yes. That's an awfully good penetration into that market. How long have you been there?

Nick Koumalatsos:
The gym's been there since 2009. It open in 2009, we bought it May 31 2018.

Mark Rippetoe:
So you had it a couple years now? And things have been going real well, I guess?

Nick Koumalatsos:
Yeah, I mean, I love it. I mean, you know, once you get into a gym and you get with the community and helping people and you just, yeah, they all become a family.

Mark Rippetoe:
People don't understand - people in the government especially don't understand -his is not just a bunch of meatheads come into the gym to hang around and, you know, show everybody their double biceps pose. This is it. People that do not train do not understand the relationships that develop in a gym amongst people who lift heavy things together.

Mark Rippetoe:
And it's it's impossible to to try to explain it to them. And I you know, I'm not interested in educating them. I'm really not. That's that's their job, not mine. So. And I and I really think that a lot of this misunderstanding in the broader public comes from the fact that people don't understand what happens in a small gym like ours.

Mark Rippetoe:
We're we're very much a community. We're very much a family. There are a lot of people in my gym... I've got two or three people in my gym that have literally been training with me for 35 years. And, you know, I mean, we've grown up together, we've grown old together. You know, we care about each other. We're friends.

Nick Koumalatsos:
When someone needs help, yeah when someone needs help. These are the people that...

Mark Rippetoe:
That's exactly what happens, right? These are who you call. These are these are our friends and family.

Mark Rippetoe:
So trying to explain to local public officials what goes on in your gym in order that they will continue to allow you to use your property that pays their taxes as you see fit is --- it galls me to have to do that. You know? And and I I decided, look... You know, you guys are gonna send me a property tax bill and we pay sales taxes every month and And why don't you leave me the fuck alone?

Mark Rippetoe:
How about that? How about you let me decide how I want to run this? And how about you let my members decide how much risk they're willing to to assume coming into the gym and possibly getting the deadly covid19 virus and and leave everybody alone. But no, they can't do that because they want to be reelected. They're posing. They're posing as concerned. They have to do something, right? And what did they decide to do to you? Just take us through the timeline here.

Nick Koumalatsos:
Yes, sure. So Governor Roy Cooper came out on March 17th and said that he was going to shut a bunch of stuff down and he did. He said... He like restaurants and this and that and then March 25th he said by 5:00 p.m., everything's shutting down. We're going to do this whole this whole whole stay at stay at home order and, you know, whatever, and we're going to flatten the curve, he said.

Nick Koumalatsos:
So initially I was like... Everybody's everybody's laughing now.

Mark Rippetoe:
Oh, yeah, they are. All the bankrupt hospitals in the United States are laughing their asses off, aren't they?

Nick Koumalatsos:
We did. I didn't know what was going to come of it. Right. We didn't have the information at the time. So we said, you know what? This supposed to be a two week thing. I was listening to the president and saying, OK, we're going to do this for a couple of weeks. By Easter, we're going to open back up, call it good.

Nick Koumalatsos:
So we shut down on the 25th. You know, we're monitoring the situation and then there's no information coming out. There's no real data coming out. It's just prolonged. And then and then two weeks turned into three weeks. Three weeks turned into four weeks. Actually, you know, I'm at five weeks. Five weeks. I thought I was going to open it on May 1st. So I was shut down all of April.

Nick Koumalatsos:
And he comes out on on on television and says, you know, things are really dangerous still, a lot of people are dying, you know, and we're going to...

Mark Rippetoe:
Despite the fact that there are a lot of people weren't actually dying. Despite that.

Nick Koumalatsos:
Right. Right. Yeah. The site, the actual truth, he says a bunch of you bunch of basically bullshit. And and then pushes phase one to May eight. And this is what the joke is. So phase one reopening, anything that was not currently -- Anything that was not currently... Or everything was closed is going to stay closed in phase one. So basically phase one was a joke. There was no...Nothing changed.

Mark Rippetoe:
Nothing... There's no phase about it. You're just still closed out.

Nick Koumalatsos:
And anyway, so I said, you know, meanwhile, like, you know, all the grocery stores, Wal-Mart's got 200 people in there. Lowe's is like running through two hundred people a day. Nothing's changed for all these big businesses.

Mark Rippetoe:
Nothing.

Nick Koumalatsos:
It's just a small mom and pop places that are shut down.

Nick Koumalatsos:
So I was like, hey, listen, I thought I did the right thing. Now I'm looking at the data. I'm looking at the flus. I'm looking at car wrecks. I'm looking at heart disease. And looking at mental health, smoking and alcohol. Alcoholism.

Mark Rippetoe:
The numbers.

Nick Koumalatsos:
Yeah. I'm like, this doesn't make any sense. You know what? I'm opening up. I'm going to execute my constitutional right and I'm going open back up. May 1.

Nick Koumalatsos:
Opened back up May 1. Sent a deal, sent and email to everyone said, here's the deal, we're following the CDC guidelines. You know, still trying to do the right thing. Follow CDC guidelines, make sure everyone's temperatures checked, we're wiping things down, which anybody has a gym knows you clean the damn gym anyway. Wipe down, clean up after yourself. It's just normal work.

Mark Rippetoe:
Duh.

Nick Koumalatsos:
And May 7th, they - we had the doors open for ventilation because, you know, CDC said make sure is well ventilated. Which was, you know, I guess trying to do the right thing, but bit us in the ass. So all the doors are open. These cops came in hot. Two cop cars, came in and blocked off the parking lot. They came in hands on their guns, sort of yelling at people.

Mark Rippetoe:
Hands on under guns. That's that's impressive.

Nick Koumalatsos:
One guy was working out. I love him to death. You want him.. He gets fired up. You guys you guys would like each other.

Nick Koumalatsos:
He he's doing some... He's doing he's lifting something, I don't know, doing some shoulders. He said he was like, put that weight down. Put it down!

Mark Rippetoe:
Put the weight down!

Nick Koumalatsos:
So he just looked at him and was like doing a bunch of them, started doing a bunch more. Anyway, so they were banging on the door, getting people's faces.

Nick Koumalatsos:
Now, and Mark, this is supposed to be this is supposed to be in the name of covid19..

Mark Rippetoe:
Public safety, covid19

Nick Koumalatsos:
Yeah. Now. If it's in public safety, why didn't they come in with hazmat suits and shut us down?

Mark Rippetoe:
Well, that is an interesting question, is it? If it's so, so thoroughly contagious and so deadly, they - of course these are loyal public servants, they were not concerned for their own safety. They're concerned for the safety of... Oh, that's what it was. Oh, yeah, something like that. OK. I can't really explain it, but you know what? Neither can they.

Nick Koumalatsos:
So they get in there, but they're in there and they're all in the members faces. They're in my manager's face, yelling and screaming, banging on doors. And anyways, so they raided the place. They shut us down.

Nick Koumalatsos:
I had words with them. And, you know, I, I expressed my, you know, I was civil, you know, and I was professional, but I expressed, you know, my concern for the situation and how they were behaving and how they were acting. And. And then I received the class two misdemeanor on the 7th.

Mark Rippetoe:
Excellent. Yeah, that's that's excellent. And I wanted one myself because we would we would be in court. You know.

Nick Koumalatsos:
They would have put you in handcuffs.

Mark Rippetoe:
They probably would have put me in handcuffs and taken me downtown and and given me a big ticket. And I'm telling you that, you know, had they done that, I would have beaten Shelly Luther to the national media. Now, wouldn't I? Yeah, I would have beaten Shelly to the national...and we had her attorney on here. You know who I'm talking about? The girl and the haircut girl in Dallas. Yeah. Yeah. We had her attorney on here.

Nick Koumalatsos:
How embarrassing. How embarrassing for America.

Mark Rippetoe:
Can you imagine. Can you imagine the governor of Michigan chasing barber from Michigan, Karl Manke. They just... The governor just had a hard on for him and they fucked with him mercilessly. 77 year old guy, he's cutting hair. He's a barber. He shut down oh two or three weeks, as long as he could stand it. But he's 77, needs money. He's still working and he's not on the dole. You know, he's not on Social Security and he's he's working to make a living. And he said I am going to open back up.

Mark Rippetoe:
And they just fucked with him mercilessly and. And made a big national story out of this thing. And. What's interesting is that the Michigan Supreme Court about three days ago threw the case against him out 7-0. Unanimously threw the threww the case against him out. Oh, so delicious.

Nick Koumalatsos:
I hope. I hope he had the support to countersue.

Mark Rippetoe:
Oh, I hope he does. I better. I bet somebody will step up and do it pro bono. What are you going to bet?

Mark Rippetoe:
So they came in and on. On day one of this little drama... You had oh, you've been open seven days so on the seventh day they came in.

Nick Koumalatsos:
They came.

Mark Rippetoe:
Right.

Nick Koumalatsos:
You know what he told me? It is is the law.

Mark Rippetoe:
You know what? It's not the law, is it?

Nick Koumalatsos:
It's not the law.

Mark Rippetoe:
It's not the law.

Nick Koumalatsos:
I asked him. I said, what statue? And he couldn't tell me.

Mark Rippetoe:
Here's a law enforcement official that doesn't know that he's following an order, not a law. Well, you know, intelligence was apparently not hiring criteria for this clown.

Nick Koumalatsos:
So a couple hours later, couple hours later, I get a I'm at home. You know, I'm pissed. I'm I'm. I'm steaming. And not because we got shut down, right? Not because of that, but because of the the way and the act of the officer involved and the way they handled this.

Nick Koumalatsos:
We're a small communityand the way they treated people. That's what really... The whole thing is jacked in general, but the way that they handle the situation was just horrible.

Mark Rippetoe:
Well, it was unprofessional, unsympathetic. And it is. It is not something you expect from a small town police force where pretty much everybody knows each other. Right. It's twenty five hundred people. You know. Yeah, I mean, you ought to have known the guy, you know, he ought to have been training with you.

Nick Koumalatsos:
If he's a cop in this town, he should know everyone by first name basis. Especially the business owners.

Nick Koumalatsos:
And so a couple hours later, the chief shows up at my front door at my house.

Mark Rippetoe:
And now this is the same guy, right?

Nick Koumalatsos:
No, there's a different guy.

Mark Rippetoe:
Ok. Oh, OK. So. So the guys that had shown up at the gym were how many were there? Two guys show up at the gym, hands hovering over their pistols like William the badass. Right. And then a couple hours later, the actual - their boss - shows up at your house. And what did he say?

Nick Koumalatsos:
He kind of, you know, in a very political way, apologized for their behavior, took the, took the citation back and said he's going to void it. And then this is when he was talking about, you know, the community and like all the barbers to the barber shops in the community and like how you know, you know, and I can say it now, it's out, but he didn't agree with the governor's order and he believes in the Constitution. He's been serving this area for 26 years.

Mark Rippetoe:
Good man. Good man.

Nick Koumalatsos:
Yeah. He's just a good he's a good guy trying to take care of his community. And so so he said, listen, you do the right things. You know, I'll I'm going to talk to you... He even said in the video it shows the guy's like, well, did they get a warning? And he goes, Well, I think so. You think so? They got a warning or they didn't. There's no think so. So his officers don't even know what the hell is going on.

Mark Rippetoe:
No, they have no idea. There's a record of a warning. It's not a warning unless there's a record of it.

Nick Koumalatsos:
And so. So so he came talk to me and then said, listen, follow the CDC guidelines, keep a low profile, you know, and take care of your people. Do what you gotta do. You know what I mean? He said if somebody complains, I got your cell phone number. Nick, I'll call you and we'll handle this like men. You know what I mean, and if there's a warning to be given out, I'll get I'll be the one to give it out to a business owner, if there's a citation, I'll be the one to give a citation. Ok. And then we'll and then we'll go from there.

Nick Koumalatsos:
So the next day on the 8th, we opened back up at 5:00 p.m.. OK. All right. No issues, no issues until the 17th. 17th, we're doing some private training with some law enforcement, some military in the gym early in the morning, like 7:00 in the morning, 6:00, 7:00 in the morning.

Nick Koumalatsos:
Had a cop there, a couple of cops there had had a bunch of military there. And we're doing some training. And this captain, the same guy who raided the place, knocks on the door. He's I'm like, oh, here we go again. So I cracked, I open the door - this time I'm locked up because it's keycard access only.

Nick Koumalatsos:
So I opened the door. What do you want? How can I help you?

Nick Koumalatsos:
He goes, I know the chief said you could be open, but you can't. It's a violation of the executive order, you need to shut down. I said, Yeah, sure, I'll call the chief.

Nick Koumalatsos:
So I call it chief, number has been disconnected.

Mark Rippetoe:
Wow.

Nick Koumalatsos:
The town manager put him on administrative leave pending an investigation. And they essentially fired him.

Mark Rippetoe:
They fired or being for being a good guy, for not being a cock bite. You got fired because you weren't enough of a cock bite. God, no. Amazing.

Nick Koumalatsos:
Because he wasn't following her guidelines.

Mark Rippetoe:
Right. Well, she is very powerful. Oh, yeah. She's very powerful.

Nick Koumalatsos:
Not for not for very long if I have anything to do with it.

Mark Rippetoe:
Oh, I hope you're right man.

Nick Koumalatsos:
And she's not even an elected official. She's a she's the hired.

Mark Rippetoe:
She's the city manager she hired but is hired by the city council.

Nick Koumalatsos:
But the mayor works for her. The chief of police works... The police work for her. So she's the end all, be all. The fact that the town council even allows this to happen is is embarrassing, but nonetheless.

Mark Rippetoe:
Yes, it is.

Nick Koumalatsos:
So they come back this time on the 18th. They come back the next day. So I find out that he's relieved, right. The 18th, the next day, they come back, I think was the 18th or maybe the same day. They had got a hold of a key card from 2010. And just walked up in that bitch like they owned the place.

Mark Rippetoe:
Just trespassed with a key they were not authorized to have on your property.

Nick Koumalatsos:
Now, I'm no lawyer, Rip. You're no lawyer. Now, does that sound legal to you?

Mark Rippetoe:
No, it doesn't. And I don't think you have to be a lawyer to understand that. There is a thing called a warrant. You know, we have in this country a thing called a warrant. And the warrant has to be granted by a judge. And the legal authority for the warrant stems from the actions of a judge in response to information about something that's illegal going on. And in the absence of that, I mean, there's this little matter of the Constitution and the sort of thing.

Mark Rippetoe:
And I don't know how much longer that that document is going to be in effect. But this.... Yes, they just they just. Do you have any idea where they got the key? So that was long before you even owned the gym.

Nick Koumalatsos:
Allegedly. Now and then they went on. And then there's this mayor, this mayor that we have in this town who is also not elected. He submitted a paper and they just gave it to him. A letter. He just submitted a letter. And they they made him the mayor.

Mark Rippetoe:
Made him the mayor. Well, I don't know about North Carolina, but in Texas, mayors are elected just like everybody else.

Nick Koumalatsos:
Well, there's supposed to be. Yeah. Yeah. Post be elected. Right.

Nick Koumalatsos:
Anyway, so here's here's the deal. So they they shut us down. Well, again, why? No, that's not true. They didn't shut us down. I made the call to shut down because at this point this time, they stopped harassing me. And this now the captain who is the at the time, the acting chief of the town - she made him the acting chief.

Mark Rippetoe:
So that was the guy that had showed up the first time. Little short guy showed up the first time.

Nick Koumalatsos:
Yeah. Right. And so he's like, I'm the acting chief now and even let everybody know, I'm the acting chief, now. A wanna be judge dred.

Nick Koumalatsos:
And so he started videotaping and he had his officers recording everybody's license plate that were at the facility and their faces and they were going to cite them for for being on the property.

Nick Koumalatsos:
I said, what's the statute that you're going to charge. To give him a citation for? And he just rolled his window up and was like, it's the law, it's the law and kept rolling his window up.

Mark Rippetoe:
He didn't he didn't know. That's only two words he was taught.

Nick Koumalatsos:
That's all. It's the law. The rules. Follow the rules.

Nick Koumalatsos:
Anyway. So anyways, they that that happened. And then and then so because of the harassed, because they were harassing the citizens of this town, I said, you know what? I'm shutting down. And then..

Mark Rippetoe:
Now that's the right... And that was the right thing to do for your members.

Nick Koumalatsos:
Yeah. I mean, yeah, if you're going to harass me...

Mark Rippetoe:
I can't you know, I'm one thing. But I mean, these people are just paying paying me to train here. And you're just intentionally fucking with your own taxpayers, by the way.

Nick Koumalatsos:
And I said that. I said yes. And, you know, realize that you're a public servant. I pay your salary. He's like, don't worry about where I get paid.

Mark Rippetoe:
Oh, they don't want to hear that. They never want to hear that shit.

Nick Koumalatsos:
Sorry. You work for... I hate to break it to you, youork for me, sir.

Nick Koumalatsos:
So. So we shut down and then. And you know, and when I found out that they did that to the chief, they did the chief dirty that way. I made that video. I said, you know, what -- because I was keeping quiet because I was like, chief's taking care of our community. You know, we got one dipshit out here that's treating people like like garbage, but I'm not going to allow that to oversee what the chief's trying to do and take care of his community.

Nick Koumalatsos:
But when they did him dirty that way, I said, you know what, I'm blowing the lid on all this and I'm going to war with these people.

Mark Rippetoe:
Is that video still up, Nick?

Nick Koumalatsos:
Oh, yeah.

Mark Rippetoe:
How do we... And I watched that. And that's why we're talking today. But I want everybody else to be able to see it. They just Google your name and make it come up?

Nick Koumalatsos:
Well, at this point...I mean, have your people do it right now: Cops raided my gym.

Mark Rippetoe:
Cops raided my gym and. And maybe we can put that url up at the top of the screen.

Nick Koumalatsos:
Business was raided by the police. Cops raided my gym. Number one, hit all kinds of news out.

Mark Rippetoe:
So anyway, you. You closed down for a while voluntarily, just to keep your members from getting in trouble, even though... You know. And you know one of the things about cops is they can - whether it's illegal or not, whether you're in violation of the law or not - they can still write you a ticket and create problems for you. You'd have to go down to stop what you're doing and go down and need to pay the damn thing.

Nick Koumalatsos:
Or go to court.

Mark Rippetoe:
Which is unconscionable. Or stop. Go to court, lawyer. Get an attorney. Waste all this time and shit. So I think that, you know, that was the right thing to do under your circumstances.

Nick Koumalatsos:
And that's what I said was, OK, I'm going to shut down after I take a different approach. Now that they've done this, I'm going to go the legal route. And that's what we're done.

Nick Koumalatsos:
So we you know, we started a go fund me to raise money for legal fees because, you know, taking the government to court is not going to be easy.

Mark Rippetoe:
No, it's not cheap.

Nick Koumalatsos:
We named all those people involved and we're taking it, We're taking the town to court for four, you know, and the lawyers have all the legal the legal fees of what all they did and what they broke.

Nick Koumalatsos:
And on as a second suit I'm taking the governor to court for what he did to the gyms and what he's doing as an unconsitutional order. Yeah. And we, through the AG, through some, you know, working with the lawyers and working with the attorney general and some other gyms in the area, they basically said if you've got medical reasons to have the gym open for certain people, which we do, you can open.

Mark Rippetoe:
Yeah. And you know what? That's bullshit too.

Nick Koumalatsos:
It is.

Mark Rippetoe:
You know, that's there shouldn't be have to be an exception for for that. I mean, it's your gym, not their gym, it's your gym.

Nick Koumalatsos:
Be an American. Right. Right. It's you have to take the you know, the risk to go to a gym that's on you.

Mark Rippetoe:
Right.

Nick Koumalatsos:
It's part of being free. It's your choice.

Mark Rippetoe:
Obviously, if you if you don't want to catch corona19, then stay home. If you don't want to give covid19 to your grandfather, stay home. Don't contaminate him, you know. But this. Why does this require the enforcement of some petty local tyrant? You know, it's just this is the whole thing is so fundamentally offensive and...

Nick Koumalatsos:
Rip, guess how many covid cases we've had in our town.

Mark Rippetoe:
In in in Holly Ridge? One or two probably.

Nick Koumalatsos:
Zero.

Mark Rippetoe:
None. Yeah sure. Right. And let me guess how many deaths? 47 deaths. Could have been, you know!

Nick Koumalatsos:
Okay, so so get this. We you know, on the deaths on the covid, right and the way that they're reporting those. I mean, you've probably heard a bunch of stuff as well.

Mark Rippetoe:
Oh, yeah, sure. T

Nick Koumalatsos:
There was two deaths in Onslow County. And I'd made a video saying, OK, let's talk about the numbers. Let's look at this from a percentage based on the numbers. So I made that video. It's on YouTube. I put it everywhere but Instagram, Facebook and. And there was two deaths reported in Onslow County.

Nick Koumalatsos:
So one hundred ninety seven thousand people, two two people died. Some fans of mine up there that worked at the hospital and Onslow County replied back to me after I post, then said, Hey, Nick, you didn't hear this from me, I just want to let you know. And this is multiple people - couple of nurses and one EMT guy. One of those deaths, I don't know about the other one, but one of the deaths was at this hospital and he died of a heart attack.

Mark Rippetoe:
Right. Oh, yeah. Yeah. That's been going on all over everywhere because they can't. This has to appear scary because if you're not scared, then you won't follow the rules. That's all there is to it.

Nick Koumalatsos:
Right, that just that just made my mind, 50 percent of their numbers are bullshit.

Mark Rippetoe:
Yeah. Oh, automatically.

Mark Rippetoe:
We've had the same thing here in Wichita County. We have one hundred and thirty eight hundred thirty five thousand eight hundred people in Wichita County. We've had two deaths and we I think we had as of a couple weeks ago, a total of like 82. Total cases. And I don't know that there's many a case reported in 10 days. No new cases reported in 10 days.

Mark Rippetoe:
And they they did the same thing here. They've done everywhere. They shut the hospital down because they're going to flatten the curve and I don't know if they get the damn thing back open yet. That that hospital lost hundreds of millions of dollars.

Nick Koumalatsos:
That's a shame.

Mark Rippetoe:
Well, it's not a shame because they're a bunch of pricks at that hospital anyway. I'm glad they took a big giant hit they need to get, they need to spend some money.

Nick Koumalatsos:
I'm thinking about all the mom and pop shops that are closing down. .

Mark Rippetoe:
Fight. Yeah, but the hospital itself. This is a real bad hospital, but. Oh God. All the bars that are closed, all the restaurants, all the little cafes, the haircut girls and guys that they couldn't make a living. All of the, you know, massage therapy, all these other things people just don't think about in order to flatten the curve.

Mark Rippetoe:
I think that the most the most number of the greatest number of people they had at any given time in the hospital with covid19 was something on the order of five. And I believe there was one of those was in the was in ICU. And that's it. The last time I talked to anybody up there, ICU had been empty.

Nick Koumalatsos:
What's interesting is all this stuff was done in the name of covid. All right, business. And we're still shut down here in North Carolina. Bars and gyms are not supposed to be open. Now, every gym in Onslow County is open, but almost every gym in Onslow County is now open in defiance and through some legal loopholes.

Mark Rippetoe:
Well, it because they just finally said, hey, fuck this. Right?

Mark Rippetoe:
You know, here's another. Did you see what happened to the unemployment numbers last week? Unemployment last week went down two and a half percent. Guess why that would have been? Because of exactly what you guys did. We're not following the rules.

Nick Koumalatsos:
Time to get people back to work so they can pay their bills.

Mark Rippetoe:
Right. Right. So they like.... Hey, so they can pay their taxes.

Nick Koumalatsos:
Yeah. Right. Right.

Nick Koumalatsos:
So. So get this in North Carolina right now, according to the governor, you can get a tattoo, you can protest and even a violent protest.

Mark Rippetoe:
Sure, the best kind.

Nick Koumalatsos:
You can go get an abortion. You can go to a swimming pool. All right. But you cannot go to a gym and you can go to a brewer, but you can't go to a bar.

Mark Rippetoe:
So all the brewpubs are open. Yes, but not the bars that are selling bottles. Yeah. OK. All right. That's perfectly reasonable. Yeah. You guys. Oh, I know. Yeah. Yeah. The liquor stores are owned by the state North Carolina.

Nick Koumalatsos:
And you know, you know, they've you know how much revenue has been happening right now?

Mark Rippetoe:
Oh, I'm sure that is probably sales have doubled. You know, it. You know, really.

Nick Koumalatsos:
I don't know if they've doubled. They've probably quadrupled.

Mark Rippetoe:
Yeah. God Almighty. Now. No doubt. No doubt. What is what else is there to do? You know, God Almighty. I've been guilty of that myself, you know. But yeah. This is a...

Mark Rippetoe:
You know, here's a here's an interesting aspect of this thing. I don't think they've ever thought about what this kind of open defiance of government power is what that's doing to their authority.

Mark Rippetoe:
You know, they've... What they've done is demonstrate conclusively that they're willing to enact bullshit ordinances. And we've demonstrated conclusively that we're willing to not follow them. That's not good for order in the long term. Now, is it?

Nick Koumalatsos:
No, it's not even good for America. Because you've done what they've done is they've completely divided America with this fear mentality. Like you've got he's got he's got half of America so freaking scared. I watch people with latex gloves and mask on in their cars, by themselves.

Mark Rippetoe:
Oh, yeah. We've got that. That that's everywhere, these fools. You know, immediately who you're dealing with, though. It's it's good to identify these morons. It really is.

Mark Rippetoe:
The other dichotomy -a nd we've talked about this on this podcast several times - is that we have allowed them to divide the businesses in the United States into two categories, essential and nonessential. Now, think of the economic ramifications of that. Let's say you manage a non-essential business.

Mark Rippetoe:
And they've shown you. They've shown you exactly what they're going to be able to do next time they want to. You're non-essential, therefore, you're shut down.

Nick Koumalatsos:
And essential to who?

Mark Rippetoe:
Yeah, it's essential. I mean, despite the fact that it's just patently foolish, what has that done to... Let's say you're the manager or the owner of a non-essential business and you decide that it's time to go get a buy house or get a mortgage? Can you get a loan?

Mark Rippetoe:
I don't see how you could. You're not guaranteed of an income and we can't guarantee your ability to pay. Yeah. What is going to happen next time? That's the whole deal.

Mark Rippetoe:
You know, we had a big discussion about about this with respect to our little gym franchise that we're we're running right now, our Starting Strength Gym franchise. What's going to... I'm not concerned about now, OK? Everything's resolved itself and we've made the public statement that we're not going to comply with any any shutdown orders in the future.

Mark Rippetoe:
And all the staff and our memberships at these gyms are all recovering very rapidly and quite nicely. And I'm real happy with that. But my concern is not about now. My concern is October, November, two years from now when somebody's advanced another disease hoax.

Mark Rippetoe:
Yeah, yeah. I'm gonna go ahead and say that this was a hoax and. The way it was approached was a hoax. I'm sure the virus actually exists, but it's a virus. Lots and lots of other viruses exist, too, and lots of people die of the flu. Everybody knows all this shit, OK?

Mark Rippetoe:
But they've shown us that they'll shut everything down. And if you're in a... I mean, think what... I don't know, man. Economies are complicated. And you've got a situation where you've got. I mean, what does this do to the commercial real estate business?

Nick Koumalatsos:
Well, right and my thing is....

Mark Rippetoe:
Are you paying rent at your gym?

Nick Koumalatsos:
Of course. Rent's due.

Mark Rippetoe:
Yeah, rent's due. How are you going to pay it? Well if you can't pay it you can't pay the rent. And then the landlord's in a shit in a shitty situation. And even if he is willing to deal with you, he may have to... He's got a note payment on the building, you know.

Nick Koumalatsos:
For his rent's due too.

Mark Rippetoe:
Sure. The employees' rent's due. Everybody's rent is due. And they can't pay it. What does this do all down the economy? This is not just a local event. This doesn't just mean I can't go get a cheeseburger. It's more complicated than that.

Nick Koumalatsos:
And and that's not going to be waived. That's a bill that's getting bigger and bigger and bigger. And you You just go back to work. I'm just going to let. I'm going to let those two months of rent go. No, it's not the way it works.

Mark Rippetoe:
No, it it it it probably is not going to be. It works for some people. Now, some some sensible landlords are willing to tack those two months onto the end of the lease and forgive that. But what are they going to do about their next payment to the bank? And if the bank didn't get paid, what's the bank going to do? And if the bank's insurance company has to come in, what are they going to do? This is you know, these ripples are real profound.

Nick Koumalatsos:
What's a scary thought, Rip, is so that as more of this essential/ nonessential becomes the norm, what happens when banks... When you go to go to a bank, to get a mortgage, to get something, to get a car loan...

Mark Rippetoe:
To get a loan on a business that's non-essential.

Nick Koumalatsos:
Yeah. They're like, where do you what kind of business do you have? Well, I have a gym. Oh, you're...

Mark Rippetoe:
Oh, you're nonessential. I'm sorry. We don't we don't make loans on non-essential businesses, you know. And, you know, it's understandable. It's understandable that they wouldn't. You know, I mean, if I was running the portfolio at the bank, I don't want a bunch nonessential business loans in my portfolio. And, you know, what about the bank examiners? What do they want to see?

Nick Koumalatsos:
Yeah, so Governor, you just go, oh, you know what? We've got the we've got the 4738 virus. And you guys...all non-essential businesses shut down again.

Mark Rippetoe:
And, you know, it's just a disaster. It's a disaster. People don't understand. I've got it. You know, we've got a big, long thread on my board about this that's had at this point, five hundred and sixty thousand views and I'm keeping keeping it current every single day.

Mark Rippetoe:
And there actually have been a few people on there that have come on and made inane comments like, oh, so you're inconvenienced, Rippetoe, you're you're inconvenienced for two weeks. And in instead of being just willing to be inconvenienced, you want to put my grandmother's health at risk.

Mark Rippetoe:
You know that just a childlike understanding of the situation. It's like they're 12.

Nick Koumalatsos:
That that video, So the cops raided my gym, that's on my Facebook page, on my personal Facebook page as three point five million views.

Mark Rippetoe:
See, a lot of people are paying attention to this kind of. And the whole thing.

Nick Koumalatsos:
You should go through the comments.

Mark Rippetoe:
Oh, God.

Nick Koumalatsos:
It's scary.

Mark Rippetoe:
Never read. Never read the comments.

Nick Koumalatsos:
I know. That's what my wife says. I don't know if you want you. You watch the record ralfe with kids or grandkids or any thing record. Ralph breaks the Internet. She's always like, don't go in the comment room now. Duck, duck, duck. Going to cover. We have to read that shit.

Mark Rippetoe:
We have a regular feature on this podcast called Comments from the Haters! And I do that with a reverb voice. I've learned how to make reverb. And what we do is our production -- our associate producer -- Is she production assistant or associate producer? Did we for today. She's associate producer today?

Mark Rippetoe:
She goes through and - so I don't have to do it - and pulls the stupid ass comments off of the previous podcast. And we read those because they're so absolutely amazing. It's, it's the bottom three percent of society is on there writing these comments.

Mark Rippetoe:
How many times were you called an entitled dick?

Nick Koumalatsos:
Oh, yes.

Mark Rippetoe:
And entitled Dick. Oh, how many hundreds of times. An entitled dick. That must be a popular term now. If you.

Nick Koumalatsos:
You know what? You know, what I've also gotten is there's this weird, like stigma or negative connotation with making money.

Mark Rippetoe:
Oh, yes. Profits before people, you see, profits before people. It's the Marxist influences coming in. The left is bigger than we want it to be. And the events of the past, especially the past couple of weeks, have shown us this.

Mark Rippetoe:
I mean, we've. So the media jumped ahead from covid19, which doesn't matter anymore, to Black Lives Matter, which is the only thing that matters now.

Nick Koumalatsos:
And it's amazing that nobody is getting covid during all these protests.

Mark Rippetoe:
It is fascinating how everybody suddenly developed an immunity to the disease.

Nick Koumalatsos:
We really flattened that curve with the stay at home order.

Mark Rippetoe:
And here we are -- we're recording this, What's today? I'll go ahead and say we're I had to break the news to you people that are watching Starting Strength radio right now. but we record this ahead of time. And we here we are this is Wednesday the 10th. Wednesday the 10th.

Mark Rippetoe:
Did you know that pantifa has taken over -- just try to process this --has taken over a section, an entire section of downtown Seattle? They have they have run the cops out. The cops left and just left an entire large section of downtown Seattle in charge of pantifa.

Mark Rippetoe:
Now, this will be interesting to see how this how this works. Let's say that I'm a business owner in that section of town. It comes time to pay my property tax. Do I pay antifa since you guys left and let them let them have this part of town where I kind of expect some municipal services like police and fire, you know? Who I send the property tax? This is the left.

Nick Koumalatsos:
I'm sure that's a lovely place to be right now.

Mark Rippetoe:
Oh, you know, it is. You know, it's all clean and pristine.

Nick Koumalatsos:
Oh, super. Super peaceful.

Mark Rippetoe:
Oh, God. Yeah. It's so quiet. And there's a lot of food, you know. All the bars are still open, I'm sure you know. Grocery stores, well stocked shelves in the grocery store. Oh, my god.

[off-camera]:
Yeah. I've seen an unverified - what's a screenshot of a tweet. And it says from somebody at the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone.

Mark Rippetoe:
Yes. C-H-A-Z. Chaz.

[off-camera]:
Alert number two. The homeless people we invited took away all the food. We need more food to keep the area operational. Please, if possible, bring vegan meat substitutes, oats, soy, anything to help us eat.

Mark Rippetoe:
Vegan meat substitutes.

Mark Rippetoe:
Oh, man. The silly people are in charge of everything now. Silly people. So. Anyway, back to your story.

Mark Rippetoe:
So you have been open now technically against the wishes of the Holly Ridge city government for 10 days?

Nick Koumalatsos:
Yeah.

Mark Rippetoe:
Have you had another visit? Is everybody leaving you alone.

Nick Koumalatsos:
No, they have left us alone.

Mark Rippetoe:
I guess they see the three point five million views on the on the video on that thing.

Nick Koumalatsos:
They also see my go fund me for the legal for the legal fees that we're about to shell out. Which we've shelled out some of them already. And they've and they've been issued both the governor has been issued and a letter stating that what we're doing is going to be doing. And his his attorneys already received it and acknowledged it.

Nick Koumalatsos:
And then we sent a -- I forgot what it's called, but basically a letter to every member of the town of Holly Ridge government telling them to not destroy evidence because there is a suit.

Mark Rippetoe:
Absolutely.

Nick Koumalatsos:
Yeah. So there's a suit coming in, a discovery. And so so they're on notice. So I think between them, seeing how much we've raised on go fundme, which we're not there yet, but how much we've raised there, they see how the video went viral. I mean, this has been on Fox Business News. Tons of papers have covered it. And so I think that they're a little bit nervous.

Mark Rippetoe:
They ought to be. Yeah. When you when you get that spoliation of evidence, e-mail that that kind of tends to make you think, hmm maybe this...maybe there's going to be some inconvenience to me coming up here shortly.

Nick Koumalatsos:
I'm going to inconvenience the shit out of them because they inconvenience the shit out of me.

Nick Koumalatsos:
So. So what's. What's interesting now is they that chief, he's he's technically back to work, but they busted him. So originally the town manager busted him down to captain. And he followed it. He followed and he filed a, you know, appeal or, I don't know,

Mark Rippetoe:
Grievance or something.

Nick Koumalatsos:
Yet they let him be a major. And then Captain Richards, the guy who did all that, did all the bad stuff, broke the law. That broke the actual law, like the actual law, you know. He is basically on paid vacation pending an investigation.

Mark Rippetoe:
Is he named in your suit?

Nick Koumalatsos:
Oh, yeah.

Mark Rippetoe:
Good, good, good. He ought to be name number one in your suit. Name number one.

Mark Rippetoe:
So have you had any words with the restored chief? You talked to him about it?

Nick Koumalatsos:
No, I. I do want to I want to. I want him to be protected. Right. Because he's still part of the town. My suit will not name him in the suit. But my lawyer and his lawyer are in are in talks and they know that I support him and.

Mark Rippetoe:
Good. Good. He needs to be.

Nick Koumalatsos:
And I'll tell you this. This was awesome. As bad as all this is, Rip, as bad as all of this stuff is. It is the amazing support of of Americans have have come through. And there's so many positive messages about this situation. And in the county, there's so many people that are like saying justice for Keith Whaley. And there there's so many people that are are - and that's the chief, that was the chief.

Mark Rippetoe:
Good. Good.

Nick Koumalatsos:
So, so many people support him in in his actions and in him doing the right thing. And, you know, I just can't I won't be able to sleep at night knowing that good men weren't taking care of in this situation. And the people that were negative, Were complicit in breaking the Constitution are held accountable.

Mark Rippetoe:
Well, you know, the when is the next city council election? Is that happening this year or is.

Nick Koumalatsos:
Should be November.

Mark Rippetoe:
Well, that may not go the way they think it will.

Nick Koumalatsos:
Tell you what, if I have in my way this this town will be disincorporated

Mark Rippetoe:
It doesn't need to be incorporated. It's not big enough to be. I mean, these people need to go. Go. Have you know, if they want to have a little planning meeting in, you know, plot to overthrow the goddamn Constitution of the United States and act like petty tyrants, they need to go somewhere else and do that.

Mark Rippetoe:
You know, they've already shown a perfect willingness to use ufettered power. This is bullshit.

Nick Koumalatsos:
This is a heavy military veteran community, right?

Mark Rippetoe:
And then none of them appreciate that, do they?

Nick Koumalatsos:
No.

Mark Rippetoe:
I hope that the election goes the right way, because this is a this is craziness. This is absolute craziness. The next couple years is going to be very interesting. The past three or four months has already been very interesting. But we're at it. We're at a big turning point in American history here.

Mark Rippetoe:
This can go one of two ways and I don't think anybody knows how it's gonna turn out right now. I don't think we do because so many. Here's why. Here's why we don't know, OK? The media has done this to us. This whole thing is a creation of the media and since it is the creation of the media and since we are all dependent on getting our information from someplace, we don't have the slightest idea what's going to happen in November.

Mark Rippetoe:
I have a feeling that President Trump is going to be elected reelected in a giant landslide. He hasn't done everything right by any stretch of the imagination during this segment.

Nick Koumalatsos:
What man does?

Mark Rippetoe:
But nobody has, you know. He's done less harm than everybody else has. And I think that people will remember that. But right now all of the polls are wrong. All of the polls are baldfaced lies, all of the news reports about all of this are baldfaced lies. Every bit of it is bullshit.

Nick Koumalatsos:
They say they weren't. You know, they're saying that we were back into a recession and it's Trump's recession.

Mark Rippetoe:
Right. It's Trump's recession. Right. And I wonder why that would be. No, we were not. And it was it wasn't it wasn't a recession. And they're not going to give him credit for that. In January, we had the best economy, the hottest economy in the history of this country. Lowest unemployment, lowest unemployment rate. Lowest minority unemployment rate that had ever been recorded.

Mark Rippetoe:
And suddenly everything turns to shit. Why if I were a conspiracy theorist... Well, I'd better not go there.

Nick Koumalatsos:
If you if you were though, right?

Mark Rippetoe:
If I was a conspiracy theorist, if I was a conspiracy theorist, I might be prone to wonder about the effects of all of this shit on the November election that I might even go so far as to wonder if maybe this had been done on purpose. But I'm not a conspiracy theorist, so I can't really say all that. But nonetheless, it is this is a turning point.

Nick Koumalatsos:
It is convenient that all of these states that are having the biggest issues with uprising and protest and all of this are blue states.

Mark Rippetoe:
That can't be argued, can't be disputed. That can't be. All the cities that are on fire have had Democrat administrations for quite some time, and it it's it's just fascinating to sit here and observe all this and you and I can't be the only two people that have put two and two together. And, yes, just this is a this is an interesting time to be alive.

Mark Rippetoe:
I could do with it with it being a little less interesting. You know, that would suit me just fine. But here we sit. You know, we're the masters of our own destiny and that's it. You know, you and I can't control anything except our gym.

Nick Koumalatsos:
You know, I was I was never I never talked about politics. I grew my hair long. I got out of military, grew my hair long. I was making funny YouTube videos. I was lifting weights. I was running my businesses, hanging out with good people, having fun with my family, enjoying the freedoms that I that I swore an oath to protect. Now it was my time to live my life.

Mark Rippetoe:
Right. Do have to enjoy some of your own hard work. Sure.

Nick Koumalatsos:
Exactly. Sure. And I never thought I never thought in a million years that I would have to be drug into political bullshit just to execute my own constitutional rights to exist.

Mark Rippetoe:
A lot of people have found out that they although they may not be interested in politics, politics is interested in them. You know, at the end, you you you you can't ignore what's going on because every once in a while, it matters how you vote. Every once in a while it matters.

Mark Rippetoe:
The things that you don't think actually matter to you actually become really, really important. And this is one of these times there there's not anybody in the United States that not that's not been profoundly affected by this. And what are you going to do about it? Is the is the deal.

Mark Rippetoe:
Now, you and I and everybody we know is gonna is gonna take this not laying down. We're gonna do what we need to do. We're gonna we're gonna do the right thing. We're going to press forward in in the best way we can. But there are a whole lot of people that don't like our approach.

Mark Rippetoe:
Now, I don't know how many that is, but I know that their opinion is not going to affect my approach to this situation.

Nick Koumalatsos:
No, and that's the great part of being in America, right? They can have a different opinion and they don't have to support ours and I don't want to support theirs. We can have a different opinion.

Mark Rippetoe:
That's absolutely right.

Nick Koumalatsos:
And that's what a lot of men have died for, for the past 200 plus years. So that you can be a complaining little baby.

Mark Rippetoe:
That's right.

Nick Koumalatsos:
You want to complain and be a little baby about everything, you have the right to do so. You're fucking welcome.

Mark Rippetoe:
Because better people than you have fixed it up so that you can.

Mark Rippetoe:
Well, I tell you what. Let's let's visit here in the couple of months again and see how you're doing and get an update and maybe have you back on the show and see what is...Has become the situation over in North Carolina.

Mark Rippetoe:
As we're as we're wrapping up today: What is your Go Fund Me page?

Nick Koumalatsos:
It's in my name, Nick Koumalatsos

Mark Rippetoe:
And it's spell it for everybody: Koumalatsos And is the gym got a web site?

Nick Koumalatsos:
It's my actually it's my name, but it does it does have a website, but it's it's on now.

Mark Rippetoe:
Look it up through Nick's name. You got. You've got a book?

Nick Koumalatsos:
Oh, yeah. Excommunicated Warrior. Seven stages of transition.

Mark Rippetoe:
Is that available on Amazon?

Nick Koumalatsos:
It damn sure is.

Mark Rippetoe:
All right. Those of you interested in supporting Nick now have the tools to do that. So let's let's talk again soon. And, Nick, I appreciate your spending time with us today. Good luck to you.

Nick Koumalatsos:
Thanks so much.

Mark Rippetoe:
And I think things are going to be all right, but we have to make them that way.

Nick Koumalatsos:
I was about to say that they will be OK because we'll put the effort into it.

Mark Rippetoe:
Because we're going to make them. All right.

Nick Koumalatsos:
Yeah.

Mark Rippetoe:
And thank you for listening to Starting Strength Radio. We'll see you next Friday.

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Mark Rippetoe is joined by Nick Koumalatsos to discuss the closing of his gym by a tyrannical local bureaucrat.

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