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Dr. Raghotham Patlola, Red Lerille and Dr. David Allie

The owner of Lafayette’s best-known gym is pleading with members to wear their masks — for their sake and his.

In an emailed message to members of Red Lerille’s Health and Racquet Club, 301 Doucet Road, owner Red Lerille conceded that he understands the reluctance to don a mask but added, “we must comply and do our part.”

“Bottom line is, I do NOT want to go out of business,” he wrote. “I have spent the last 57 years of my life, blood, sweat and tears fulfilling my life dream to provide Lafayette, my community and my members (you) with the best health club possible. I take tremendous pride in being a large part of keeping YOU healthy.”

But Lerille alluded to a state mandate issued over the weekend by Gov. John Bel Edwards that says people in public must wear masks, including in gyms as well as stores and other public places.

Lerille, 84, who won numerous body-building accolades, including AAU Mr. America in 1960, also said masks work in protecting people from health dangers like COVID-19.

“Equally frightening, is watching a close family friend struggle for his life in ICU with complications of COVID,” he wrote. “He is young and in outstanding physical shape, yet not immune from the virus. Many of you know someone who has struggled and/or died from COVID. The virus is REAL!”

He also said that, “If we do not comply with ‘mask wearing’ the state WILL SHUT US DOWN!” He then asked members to do their parts and wear the mask to keep Red’s in business.

Lerille was not immediately available for comment.

Acadiana Business Today: With jobless rates rising again in Acadiana, federal unemployment benefit to expire soon; Red Lerille: 'We must comply and do our part' against COVID by wearing masks


Email Ken Stickney at kstickney@theadvocate.com.