UPDATE: Planet Fitness asking woman with Down syndrome to remove weight belt because it's intimidating
A Hixson gym has issued an apology after an employee asked a woman with Down syndrome to remove her weight belt, calling her "intimidating."
UPDATE: A Hixson gym has issued an apology after an employee asked a woman with Down syndrome to remove her weight belt, calling her "intimidating."
Amanda Rogers says an employee at Planet Fitness asked her sister to remove her workout belt a belt she has worn in workouts before.
Alicia and Amanda Rodgers are more than sisters. They are gym partners.
“I don't want my sister to die and it's all because of conditions like diabetes, heart problems, weight issues because she doesn’t have the on/off button like we do,” Alicia Rodgers.
Amanda, who is 34-years-old and has Down syndrome, has experienced some pain because of her workouts.
When they went to work out at the Planet Fitness in Hixson Friday, Amanda wore a weight belt.
“My back was hurting I have to wear it,” said Amanda Rodgers.
“I mean that's just all the more reason for her to wear a weight belt,” said Rodgers. “She can't feel pain the way we do so it helps her posture.”
The sisters, who work out at Planet Fitness regularly, say Amanda routinely wears the belt.
That’s why they were surprised when an employee interrupted their workout to ask that Amanda remove the belt or hide it under her clothes.
Amanda says the employee said Amanda was intimidating others and cited a rule banning visible belts.
“That just breaks my heart,” said Rodgers. “She doesn't bother anybody. We just go there to work out.”
Alicia says the manager could not provide the rule in writing. They left the gym. Amanda posted on Facebook to tell friends about what happened.
Her post was shared over 2,000 of times.
Planet Fitness responded with a statement:
“We sincerely apologize for the unfortunate incident that took place at our Hixson club. In this instance, a staff member misinterpreted a company policy and approached Amanda about her weight belt in error. While the staff’s actions were not malicious in their intent, we are working closely with the franchise owner to re-educate the staff on our current policies and protocols. We have also attempted to contact Amanda directly, to personally convey our sincerest regrets, and hope to welcome her and her sister back to Planet Fitness in the future.”
McCall Gosselin, VP of Public Relations & Communications
Saying a staff member misinterpreted a company policy and approached Amanda about her weight belt in error.
A spokesperson for the gym called the sisters to apologize and offer lifetime memberships.
“We will switch to another gym and keep going,” said Rodgers. “Won't we? Yes. It'll be more leg days to come.”
The Rodger sisters say they have received invitations through social media to attend other local gyms.
They have not decided where their next workout will be.