Anytime Fitness in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, posted an “I Can’t Breathe” workout plan complete with a drawing of a kneeling man in reference to George Floyd’s death. The workout ended with the words “And don’t you dare lay down.”
The gym was subsequently slammed for its insensitivity, and later apologized for the oversight.
Speaking to TMZ, Jen Dunnington, a co-owner of the gym, stated that a trainer was looking to honor Floyd’s death by setting up the 35-minute workout that was supposed to be “so hard that we felt what he felt.”
However, the workout has been called insensitive by many, with some stating that it was outright racist.
Monica, a member of the gym, told Fox 6: “There are so many other productive ways to support the Black Lives Matter cause, and so many better ways to honor George Floyd. Doing burpees and rows is not a way to help.”
Leon Ward, another member, said: “It’s obvious that (the person who posted the workout) is trying to demean (Floyd’s death) because what’s the sense in posting it.”
Dunnington expressed her apology, stating that the “I Can’t Breathe” line was meant as a motivator. As for the “lay down” line, she said: “I apologize that it said that. The line on there should not have been on there.”
Anytime Fitness wrote on their Facebook page: “We are terribly sorry for our actions this week by offering an ‘I Can’t Breathe’ workout. No matter our intent, we now recognize how deeply offensive our words, illustrations and actions have been. One of the publicly-stated commitments to antiracism work by the owner of the Anytime Fitness brand, Self Esteem Brands, is to bolster education efforts for its franchise owners to lead with empathy, love and respect. We obviously have work to do within our own location, and we will work hard to earn back your trust and respect. We stand with our black community, and again, we are so very sorry for this insensitive move.”
Anytime Fitness corporate released a statement saying that the trainer who had created and promoted the workout had been placed on leave.