Pacifica, CA

Owner of yoga studio that stayed open throughout pandemic says he won't pay fines

Kristen Philipkoski

(Pacifica Beach Yoga studio owner and instructor Thomas Antoon celebrates his birthday at his studio in December of last year at a time when San Mateo county was in purple Tier 1)

Thomas Antoon, a yoga instructor and studio owner in Pacifica, CA, has fled the state and says he has no plans to pay the approximately $4,000 in fines he racked up for continuing to teach group hot yoga classes throughout the pandemic.

Following several complaints on Yelp and elsewhere about Antoon’s studio Pacifica Beach Yoga, San Mateo County began fining Antoon in mid-November. NBC Bay Area reported the county obtained a court order to shut the business down on January 21.

“I will return when they return our freedom to earn a living,” Antoon told me via Instagram direct message.

“They can put a restraining order on me like I’m hurting somebody… they want to sue me for the fines will never see a nickel not five cents ever [sic].”

Antoon has reportedly fled to Nevada, and following a series of Instagram posts touting former President Trump and downplaying the pandemic with hashtags including #fearfree and #cowardfree, he has recently posted wintry scenes and most recently a photo from Garden of the Gods state park in Colorado Springs.

According to San Mateo County regulations, group exercise classes were not allowed during the majority of the past year when Antoon kept his studio open, but he continued to post his schedule and host classes anyway.

Antoon has said he doesn't believe the pandemic is real: "I mean, if it's a pandemic... wouldn't we be stacking bodies? You don't even hear about anyone dying. Only what you listen on the news," he told ABC7 News.

There have been 515 Covid 19 deaths in San Mateo County, more than 52,000 deaths in California, and 512,000 deaths across the country.

He also told NBC Bay Area that he fogged the entire studio with an alcohol mixture to sanitize, and also cleaned the mats and floor after classes.

“Why has nobody got sick or should I say caught the virus at my studio in nine months of being open?” he told me via Instagram. “The county has an opportunity to show others what I’ve been doing to keep people from getting infected so they can open their businesses they choose not to they choose to make me look like a super spreader with no proof ask them to show you one name of somebody that’s caught the virus [sic].”

He also said on Facebook that he had previously contracted the virus: "I already caught it. It was like a fart. I mean I know you’re just a sheep but you have to be smart enough to realize you don’t even know you have the virus unless you get tested for it Wow that’s a pretty dangerous virus you wear a mask because they want to control you and you continue to wear a mask so they win then they gonna tell you to take a shot and you’ll do that too get ready it’s time for you to be Sheared [sic] just like a sheep."

When an ABC7 reporter pressed him on why he continued to host classes despite county regulations Antoon replied: "Go away, b*tch."

In a 2015 interview, Antoon said yoga had changed his life, transforming him from a violent individual ("Tom") into a kinder, gentler person ("Tommy") after training with Yoga to the People, which closed last summer after news reports uncovered a series of controversies connected to its founder Greg Gumucio.

I have reached out to Antoon with further questions; he did not respond to before press time.

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I'm a veteran writer and editor and founder of Mean Magazine and The Mean Podcast for GenX women. I write about everything from fashion to science and everything in between. I’ve written for Racked, Refinery 29, 7x7, SF Chronicle, Wired, Gizmodo and many others.

Pacifica, CA

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