Last month my boyfriend and I were victims of a hate crime inside a LA Fitness center in Los Angeles. While my boyfriend and I were using gym equipment, an older white man physically harassed us and prevented us from working out. We tried ignoring the belligerent man, but instead he began yelling homophobic and racist’s slurs. Management at the LA Fitness was notified and a staff person asked him to leave. We told the employee that dealt with the situation that we no longer felt safe at the gym, and in response he said he revoked the culprit’s membership. Unfortunately, just last week, the culprit was inside the same fitness center.
When I approached the LA Fitness manager about the incident and how we felt uncomfortable and unsafe having the culprit continue going to the fitness center, he said that the incident “only happened once” and that there was “not a trend” yet so there was no need for any disciplinary action. The manager also argued that some people have called him by the “N word” before “but there’s nothing [he] could do about it.” The manager also said that LA Fitness is a private company, and they can do “whatever they want.” He then explained that the only “neutral” option for him would be to revoke my boyfriend and I’s membership along with the hostile, racist, homophobic man. When I asked the manager for their policy on harassment and discrimination, he said they didn’t have one. I asked him if he could look on their website, but he said that there was no such thing online either.
LA Fitness’ management of the situation was unfair, misleading, and completely misguided. In addition to failing to protect the safety of its members, LA Fitness does not have the necessary safeguards to prevent incidents like this one in the future. The management had no idea on how to handle the situation and the manager lacked essential cultural competence (in fact one of the staff members referred to us as “homosexual”). There isn’t any clear anti-harassment and intimidation policy in place and accessible for its staff or gym members. This needs to change.
Join us in calling on LA Fitness to adopt a no tolerance policy against harassment, discrimination, and intimidation by signing the petition.