Earlier this year, LA Fitness called the police on two African American men because they didn’t believe the men had memberships, even though both of the men had checked in and one of the men had been a member of the gym for eight years. The police arrived and requested the men leave. Three LA Fitness employees, including the manager, were later fired for the incident .
While some may argue this isn’t an example of racism or racial profiling, with similar incidents occurring at places like Starbucks and Waffle House, it’s evident that racism is a clear problem, and the gym is only one of the areas in which racism exists.
You may be thinking that you don’t understand what racism has to do with fitness. Why is it important?
I don’t personally believe we can talk about fitness or empowerment without discussing race, politics, access, inclusivity, representation, and even more, who gets a seat at the table — who gets to be fit, who gets to be represented in fitness, and who gets the opportunities. These issues are all inextricably intertwined.
While the LA Fitness situation may be a rare example, that doesn’t mean that racism and microaggressions aren’t occurring every day in fitness, because they most certainly are. The everyday examples are far subtler.
Here are three examples of everyday racism in the fitness world.