Monday, March 24, 2014

Woman Told To Leave Planet Fitness Because She's Too Fit.

Although I visit the gym as often as my schedule allows, I'm not by any means a "lunk". I'm simply a 40 year old man trying to stave off Father Time (and to a lesser degree, genetics) and live as fruitful and healthy a life as reasonable possible. I've got plenty of gripes with my gym, which have been discussed at length here already. But one thing I think we can all agree on is that certain people there really annoy you. And for such annoyances, a thing called "earbuds" was invented. Let the chuuuuch say amen.

That said, some people like their gym experience to be d-bag free, which has lead to the growth of such franchises as Curves (for plus-sized women) and Planet Fitness, for people who simply find the real gym too intimidating. Both business are thriving, and both do so by essentially legally discriminating against certain types of unsavory customers. Planet Fitness' entire appeal is based on it being a gym that's not really a gym. And that policy seems to have recently backfired spectacularly.
A Bay Area woman was asked to cover up while working out at a Richmond gym, after staff members say she was intimidating people with her toned body.

Tiffany Austin said she was excited to get back in shape after recovering from a recent car accident. After her doctor told her it was time to start walking more, she took a tour of the Planet Fitness Gym in Richmond. On Monday she officially joined the gym and was looking forward to her first workout – but that workout lasted a quick 15 minutes.

Austin said things started out well. She hopped on a treadmill, set the speed to slow, put her earbuds in and started walking. She started to notice others staring at her, and quickly grew self-conscious but she kept on walking. That is until a staff-member stopped her.

According to Austin that staff member said, "excuse me we've had some complaints you're intimidating people with your toned body. So can you put on a shirt?”

Austin was wearing a tank that showed her stomach and capri-pants and says she didn't see anything wrong with the outfit. She says she was only told not to wear a string tank because of the dress code policy at the gym.

She agreed to wear the shirt, but while the first staff member went to get it she says she was approached by another staff member who also took issue with her body. Austin says at that point she had enough; she asked for a manager - asked for her money back and left.

Planet Fitness boasts 5 million members and a policy that bans what they call “gymtimidation.” Its website says members can get in shape without being, "subjected to the hardcore look-at-me-attitude that exists in too many gyms."

The franchise goes even further and has a “lunk alarm” in every gym which sends off a siren if someone drops a weight or breathes too hard or shows any behavior that staff members consider "lunk-like".
Look, I get it. Some people didn't like seeing this seemingly fit woman walk around in clothes that revealed her assets, and blew the whistle on her. The attire was supposedly banned in the contract the lady signed, and she felt disrespected because she was asked to cover up and asked for a refund.

She isn't suing, she has moved on. Some have suggested the woman was a target of racial discrimination, but knowing a little bit about Richmond, CA (former home of Master P), I'm betting the women who called foul on her were also black. You'll note that the woman herself didn't mention race at all. So kill that noise.

Still, I can't help but wonder what sort of message this sends. Planet Fitness' own commercials make fun of "lunks", but also feature women who are attired just like the lady above (see background at 22 second mark). Are we as a society so weakminded that we can't even manage to do something to improve ourselves in the presense of others who have already improved themselves? Whatever happened to putting on earbuds and looking straight ahead? How hard is that?

I have a boatload of complaints with my gym (most of which center around the waaay too small locker room) but I can live with them. I'll ride that out before I give a dollar to Planet Fitness.

Unless, of course, they've got larger locker rooms.

Question: Does this story make any sense to you? Should Planet Fitness be allowed to legally discriminate against certain types of customers? Where do you work out?

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