PureGym called out for racially insensitive fitness class

The Editors
·3-min read
Photo credit: SOPA Images - Getty Images
Photo credit: SOPA Images - Getty Images

From Runner's World

Popular nationwide gym chain, PureGym, have come under fire after their Luton and Dunstable branch advertised 'slave-themed' workout classes. Rather astonishingly, the class was created to celebrate Black History Month.

The Facebook post about the classes, which was shared by Twitter user Georgia Coan, has since been removed and PureGym have issued an apology. In the post, PureGym Luton & Dunstable wrote: 'Entitled '12 Years of Slave' (after the epic movie) this is our workout designed by @mattsimpt to celebrate Black History Month. Slavery was hard and so is this.'

It continued on to explain the format of the class, adding, 'The twist to this is 1 rep of your first exercise, 2 of the second but before your move on the 3rd exercise which is also 3 reps you must start at the beginning and move on AND that's how the entire workout goes.' It was followed up with a subsequent load of fitness-related hashtags and photo of a gym studio mirror with '12 Years Of Slave' [sic] written on it.

The post has since been removed and PureGym have shared an apology statement, describing it as 'wholly unacceptable'. Many social media users expressed their shock, including British sprinter Dina Asher-Smith, who said she was 'shocked and hurt'.

In a statement on Twitter, Asher-Smith wrote, '"Slavery was hard and so is this". I am shocked, hurt, stunned and confused that someone would think it appropriate to use the enslavement and brutal torture of generations of Black people to characterise a workout.

'I am in disbelief that somebody thought this was okay.

'I understand that this came from an individual who had gone against corporate protocol and this was not a PureGym sanctioned post of workout.

'Nevertheless, this should not have happened. This is exactly why diversity and inclusion training is so important for all companies and PureGym policies must be tightened so that there is approval over what goes out under their name.

'Black History Month and the Black Lives Matter movement have shown why we need to have widespread honest and unfiltered education around Black History.

'It is important for everyone to understand why it is so offensive and inappropriate to make this allusion'.

In full, PureGym's statement reads: 'PureGym apologises unreservedly for a post regarding Black History Month that was made today by our gym in Luton & Dunstable. This post was wholly unacceptable, was not approved or endorsed by the company and was removed when it was brought to our attention.

'We take this matter extremely seriously and are urgently investigating how or why this post was made. Thank you to those people who commented on this post and for raising this with us.'

The trainer behind the workout, Matt Simpson, responded to one tweet calling it out saying, 'What's so interesting about it? I've merely taken the name of an Oscar winning film and given it to a workout having the number of exercise coincide with the number in the title.' It's believed he is also an assistant manager within the gym.

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