RIDGELAND, Mississippi — Most people who join gyms set out to get toned up – or even ripped in their arms, shoulders, midsections and legs. But those body improvements can make others feel inadequate, and in these politically correct times that’s not good for business.
At least that’s how the management of a Planet Fitness in Richland, Calif., sees things. In its interpretation of the companywide ban on “lunk behavior,” the staff at a Bay Area Planet Fitness gym insisted very fit new member Tiffany Austin cover up after she arrived wearing an outfit that included a tank that showed her mid-section and Capri pants.
“Excuse me we’ve had some complaints you’re intimidating people with your toned body. So can you put on a shirt?” Austin said she was told, according to a report from the Bay Area’s KTVU-TV.
She agreed to wear the shirt, but while the first staff member went to get it she says she was approached by another staff member who also took issue with her body. Austin says at that point she had enough; she asked for a manager – asked for her money back and left, KTVU-TV reports.
Planet Fitness boasts 5 million members and a policy that bans what they call “gymtimidation.” Its website says members can get in shape without being, “subjected to the hardcore look-at-me-attitude that exists in too many gyms.”
The franchise goes even further and has a “lunk alarm” in every gym which sends off a siren if someone drops a weight or breathes too hard or shows any behavior that staff members consider “lunk-like.”
Michael Jones, manager of Ridgeland’s Planet Fitness on Lake Harbour, had not heard about the lunk enforcement action at the California club. But he says his staff would not go that far.
“That’s not who we are. We have lots of members who are in shape.”
You can come as ripped as you like – as long as you follow the dress code, Jones says. Women’s tanks are OK, he says, but not ones that are tied with strings.
The latter falls into the distraction category, he explains.
As Jones sees it, lunk behavior occurs when a gym member becomes a genuine distraction. That usually involves a lifter lifting more than he can handle and constantly roars or drops or slams down weights.
A lunk alarm goes off in those instances and staff tries to de-lunk the member – not an enviable task considering the lunker is usually a very large, muscular individual.