A woman recovering from a car accident was asked to put on a shirt by staff at the Planet Fitness Gym in Richmond, Calif., on Monday after staff informed her that her "toned body" was intimidating other club members.
Tiffany Austin, told KTVU that she was excited to get back in shape after being sidelined by a recent car accident. She said after her doctor told her she could get back to exercising again, she scouted the gym and started her first workout on Monday.
It only lasted 15 minutes.
Austin said shortly after she began some work on the treadmill a staff member stopped 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?"
At the time, according to Austin, she was wearing a tank top that showed her stomach and a pair of capri-pants that she felt accommodated the gym's dress code. She claims that she was only told not to wear a string tank top.
Nevertheless, Austin says she complied with the request by wearing a shirt, but after she had done that, another staff member came over to her and raised concern about her body. It was at that point, Austin said, she'd had enough. She asked for her money back from the gym and left.
On its website, Planet Fitness Gym boasts about its "judgment free zone philosophy," which discourages members from showing off their bodies.
"As the most innovative health club brand in the United States, Planet Fitness is known for a lot of things – our absurdly low prices, our Lunk™ Alarm, and most of all perhaps, 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," noted a description on the site.
Derek Van Reheenen, director of the Athletic Studies Center at UC Berkeley, said while Planet Fitness still has a lot of things to work out, it is definitely on the right track.
"In a lot of ways I think what Planet Fitness is doing is a positive thing," he said, adding that the company "obviously needs to iron out some of these issues...," he said.
Gym member Geovanna Borges, who joined the Richmond gym two months ago, commented, "It's unfair to show off your body, because it can make other people feel bad," she said.
When asked about the incident involving Austin, however, Planet Fitness spokesperson Mcall Gosselin said if she was criticized for being toned or fit, then that "is not in line with the Planet Fitness policy whatsoever."