Judgment free gym judges woman’s workout attire as intimidating

Tiffany Austin wanted to get back in shape after a car accident. So she did what a lot of us would do – she joined a gym near her home in Richmond, California.

She took a tour of Planet Fitness and found the atmosphere and price appealing so she said told California’s KTVU Channel 2 that she signed up.

Her first day at the gym, she headed to a treadmill and began a powerwalk. But before she could even break a sweat, an employee told her that her exposed abs were intimidating. She wore a spaghetti-strapped crop top and capri pants.

“I don’t feel like it’s anything crazy, but I mean you tell me if it’s burning your eyes,” Austin told KTVU.

First they asked her to put on a shirt, which they provided. But after a second employee approached her, she decided to leave instead.

You can read Yahoo.com’s story here, as well as watch the KTVU report on the incident.

I was particularly interested in this incident because my 19-year-old daughter and I joined Planet Fitness in June of 2012. I kept my membership at my other gym because that’s where my husband prefers to work out. But the equipment is often broken and in disrepair and if I’m stuck running on a treadmill for an hour (sometimes longer), I want to watch a television that I can hear.

Planet Fitness was appealing because it had many television options, a sprint weight section that my daughter loves, and the option to buy memberships that allows us to bring a guest every time we go. I often have friends and family from out of town, and we were paying as much as $10 a day for access to a gym. She’s in college and has friends who want to go now and then but might not have the money for a monthly gym membership. So we joined.

Right off the bat there were things I didn’t like and others I just didn’t understand. First, there is no scale. I don’t define myself by my weight, but it is one helpful measure of fitness. There is a reason that doctors weigh their patients when they come in for check ups.

Yes, for some people, weight matters too much. But does that mean you ban scales?

The other thing is the silly ads and signs that ban stereotypes. There is a dress code and no acting like a “lunk.”

Signs everywhere declare this is a “judgment free zone” at Planet Fitness, but honestly, I’ve never felt more judged than when we work out there.

Personally, I love to see super fit people working out around me. I also love to see super out-of-shape people huffing and puffing right along side me. I like to see kids and senior citizens and people who have stylish matching outfits, right along side those of us who simply put on something clean.

All of it inspires me.

One morning my daughter and I worked out along side a woman well into her golden years. When we finished, Rachel told me how strong the woman was as she had to adjust the machine to a lighter load a time or two. We talked about how great that was, and how that was our goal in going to the gym on a regular basis.

People shouldn’t be stereotyped by what they wear or how they look. And Planet Fitness’ efforts to make us accept each other by banning certain stereotypes is only making the problem worse.

Body builders should be comfortable lifting along side a mom trying to lose weight. And us middle-aged joggers should be able to learn from the young athletes. Don’t make us hate people we don’t know. Don’t make us even more afraid of each other. And please, don’t make us more judgmental than we already are. If you want to create an environment where anyone feels welcome, then embrace everyone. Instead of banning hats, sandals and cell phones, deal with behavior that makes people feel discouraged or less than when it happens.

And finally, trust us to learn from and take care of each other.

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