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Gyms are supposed to be places to get fit, but a Planet Fitness in Northern California is gaining national attention after telling a woman her body was apparently too toned and intimidating other patrons.
Tiffany Austin was looking to get back in shape after a recent car accident, so she joined a Planet Fitness on Monday in Richmond, Calif.
But her first workout lasted a mere 15 minutes.
According to KTVU-TV, Austin “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.”
Austin says that staff member then told her: “Excuse me. We’ve had some complaints you’re intimidating people with your toned body. So can you put on a shirt?”
Austin was clad in a pink tank-top that revealed her stomach along with a pair of capri pants.
“I don’t feel like it’s anything crazy, but I mean, you can tell me if it’s burning your eyes,” she told the station.
See the original report by KTVU-TV below:
She says she had only been instructed not to wear a string tank-top due to the dress code at the facility.
Austin agreed to put on the extra shirt, but while the first staff member went to get it, she says she was approached by another staffer who also took issue with her body. At that point, she had enough, asked for a manager to refund her money and then left the gym.
Planet Fitness, which boasts 5 million members, actively advertises that it bans "gymtimidation."
Its website says the club is perhaps best known "for our Judgment 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."
Watch a popular TV commercial for Planet Fitness about its "no intimidation" policy:
Austin said: "Really I felt like intimidated and harassed by the place that says 'No intimidation.'"
Derek Van Reheenen, director of the Athletic Studies Center at the University of California in Berkeley, told KTVU: "In a lot of ways I think what Planet Fitness is doing is a positive thing. They obviously need to iron out some of these issues but sport in the U.S. is by nature is discriminatory too, it is selective and it is elite."
The Planet Fitness management in Richmond, Calif., referred all comment to the corporate office, where a spokesperson said the company, "strives to make everyone feel comfortable" and says the dress code is at the discretion of the staff and manager.
But Planet Fitness spokesperson Mcall Gosselin also said if Austin was criticized for being toned or fit, then that "is not in line with the Planet Fitness policy whatsoever."