California Health Club Completely Misses The Mark - Los Angeles News | FOX 11 LA KTTV

From Anchor Tony McEwing

California Health Club Completely Misses The Mark

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Until today, I was under the mistaken impression that the whole point of going to a health club, or at least the primary reason, is to get in shape and feel better about yourself. Apparently not. At least one could make that argument when it comes to the policies of the health club chain Planet Fitness. Believe me, I get it. The health club business is incredibly competitive. Basically, if you've seen one gym, you've seen them all. I know that's a gross generalization but you get my point. You can tone up at just about any health club with a bare minimum of equipment if you really want to. So coming up with a "gimmick" that sets you apart from the others is often a key to survival.

Planet Fitness, which boasts 5 million members, has a policy that bans what it calls "gymtimidation." Its website says members can tone up without being "subjected to the hardcore look-at-me-attitude that exists in too many gyms." Now don't get me wrong. I don't object to the policy per se. In fact, I rather like the idea of a low stress place to achieve your fitness goals without a lot of pressure or shame or intimidation. After all, nobody likes an arrogant, obnoxious showoff at the gym, except perhaps another arrogant, obnoxious showoff.

But a good idea can become a bad one very quickly when its implementation goes overboard. That's exactly what I think happened to Tiffany Austin at a Planet Fitness facility, located in Richmond in the Bay Area. Tiffany was extremely excited about getting back in shape following a car accident. And she did it. She then joined the gym to tone up even more. Sadly, her first workout, which lasted only about 15 minutes, turned out to be her last. While she was walking on the treadmill, a staff member stopped her, saying there had been complaints from other members that Tiffany was intimidating people with her well toned body and that she needed to cover up more with a shirt.

Tiffany was wearing a tank top that showed her stomach and capri-pants. She says she doesn't think her outfit was inappropriate or intimidating and that it didn't violate any gym dress code. Still, she agreed to wear a shirt. But while the first staff member went to get it, Tiffany was approached by a second staff member who also objected to her taut body as well as her gymwear. That's when Tiffany confronted the manager, demanded her money back and left.

Again, I get it. Their club, their rules. But when those rules, no matter how well intentioned, are enforced in such a way that they actually end up causing the same kind of harassment and intimidation to others that they're supposed to prevent, something's wrong. When it comes to any policy, an ounce of common sense can go a long way. Here's the thing. I suspect had Tiffany worn a potato sack, some members at Planet Fitness would still have found her fit form intimidating and objectionable. Makes you wonder at what point political correctness becomes persecution?

Tony McEwing co-anchors FOX 11 Morning News at 4:30 am and provides news updates for the Emmy award winning Good Day LA, broadcast weekdays from 7:00 - 10:00 am. He also co-anchors the FOX 11 10 am News and the FOX 11 News at Noon.
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