A California woman says a popular gym that prides itself on “no gymtimidation”recently violated that rule when its employees told her to cover up because of her "toned physique."
Tiffany Austin, a Los Angeles-area vocalist and lyricist, told HLN Wednesday that she was walking on the treadmill during her first day at a Planet Fitness Monday in Richmond when she noticed stares from some of the other patrons around her.
Austin, who said she was wearing capri pants and a tank top, claims that's when she was approached by gym employees who said they had received complaints about her body.
“The first one said, 'You’re intimidating people with your toned body, your toned physique,'” she told HLN. “If I’m intimidating someone I thought I had to be harassing them or something, I’m like, wow, just being who I am is an infraction of some sort?" The staffer said that she had to cover up and offered to give her a loaner shirt, which she accepted.
Austin says she thought the incident was over, but it quickly escalated.
“In rapid succession, the second one [staffer] came after I had already agreed to put on the shirt,” she says. “Then I said, you know what, give me my money back.” She says she asked to talk to a manager -- none were present at the time -- before she left in a huff.
But Planet Fitness says it wasn't Austin's body that got her in trouble, but her non-compliance with the gym’s dress code policy, which “is enforced at the staff’s discretion.”
“In this particular instance, club staff received complaints from several members about Ms. Austin’s attire," McCall Gosselin, spokeswoman for Planet Fitness, told HLN in an e-mail Wednesday. "As a result, a staff member informed her of the dress code policy and also offered to provide her with a free T-shirt to complete her workout. Planet Fitness’ dress code policy is based solely on attire and not physique, as members of all shapes and sizes are welcome in our clubs.”
Planet Fitness is famously known as a place that discourages patrons from calling attention to themselves by doing things such as grunting and generally making a lot of noise while lifting weights, otherwise known as “lunking."
On its website, the gym says, “Planet Fitness is known for a lot of things -- our absurdly low prices, our Lunk Alarm, and most of all perhaps, for our Judgement Free Zone philosophy, which means members can relax, get in shape, and have fun without being subjected to the hard-core, look-at-me, attitude that exists in too many gyms.”
"I didn’t know about this Lunk-head policy," Austin says, "but I don’t even have the capabilities of working out like that because my hip is messed up due to a [recent traffic] accident.”
Austin also says there was nothing wrong with her attire, a pink, midriff-baring ensemble which she showed to HLN affiliate KTVU. She says she had heard that she couldn't wear "string tanks," but adds, "I don't even know what that is, but I said, OK, I'm not buying those."
Regardless, it doesn't seem as if Austin will have to look too hard for a new place to workout. “Interestingly, a representative from CrossFit Gym has offered me a one-month trial membership," she says. "He said they like people who work out."
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