Tiffany Austin may hold the record for the shortest gym membership. She quit Planet Fitness just 15 minutes after joining because the staff members allegedly told her she was too toned and intimidating other members.
Austin told her local news station she joined the gym in a suburb of Richmond, California to get back into shape after a car accident. When she hopped on the treadmill on Monday, she was wearing a cropped tank top and capris which she thought fit within the gym’s dress code. A few minutes later, she says a Planet Fitness staff member approached her and said, “Excuse me we’ve had some complaints you’re intimidating people with your toned body. So can you put on a shirt?”
Agreeing to put on a shirt, Austin says she continued her workout while the staff member went to find her one. While they were gone, she was approached by another staff member who made similar comments about her body. It was then that Austin asked for the manager, asked for a refund, and quit.
Before the staff members came over, Austin said she noticed others at the gym staring at her, which made her feel self-conscious.
It seems strange that anyone would feel self-conscious at a gym that touts itself as a “Judgment-free Zone” free of “gymtimidation.” The Planet Fitness website states it aims to be a place where members can get into shape without being, “subjected to the hardcore look-at-me-attitude that exists in too many gyms.”
Cases like Austin’s make it sound like Planet Fitness has gone too far in the other direction. No one is going to take issue with a gym being dedicated to the idea of no judging, but that should mean no judging of anyone, on any fitness level. If a gym is going to declare itself judgment-free, then that’s exactly what it should be.
If people are asking to not be judged because of their own fitness levels or appearance, then they should extend that courtesy to others. Planet Fitness prides itself on the banning of “lunk-head” behavior, even sounding an alarm anytime it happens. That’s fine, and to be encouraged. A gym where everyone is treated with respect sounds like a delight. Unfortunately for Austin, when she thought she joined a gym where she could be comfortable, she left feeling judged and harassed.