Anytime Fitness under fire after trainer shares 'I Can't Breathe' workout

Marni Dixit
Lifestyle & Entertainment Producer

Anytime Fitness in the US has been forced to apologise after an employee of one of the gym's franchises shared a workout that seemingly mocked the Black Lives Matter movement.

A franchise in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin shared the "I Can't Breathe" workout, named after the words spoken by George Floyd who died after a Minneapolis police officer held their knee on his neck for almost nine minutes.

Anytime Fitness has come under fire after a trainer shared a workout titled the "I Can't Breathe" workout in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests. Photo: Getty

Anytime Fitness' corporate office has now revealed that the trainer who created and promoted the insensitively titled workout has been terminated.

The statement read, "The trainer who promoted the 'I Can’t Breathe' workout has been terminated by the owner of the Wauwatosa location.

"That owner has taken full responsibility for the actions of his location, and he and his entire staff have volunteered to be the first ones to participate in the antiracism training that we announced last week and are providing for all franchise owners across our portfolio of brands."

The workout itself featured an illustration of what appeared to be a black person alongside the exercises and was shared to the gym's social media accounts, it has since been deleted.

Unsurprisingly, people on social media were seriously angered by the brand's "tone deaf" workout.

Anytime Fitness wrote on Facebook saying they "do not condone the words, illustrations or actions this represents".

The statement reads, "As leaders of Self Esteem Brands and the Anytime Fitness brand, we were shocked and devastated to see that one of our franchise locations chose to offer an 'I Can’t Breathe' workout.

"No matter the intent, we absolutely do not condone the words, illustrations or actions this represents. To our employees, owners and members, we are truly and profoundly sorry that this incident occurred. One of our publicly-stated commitments to antiracism work is to bolster training efforts for our franchise owners to lead with empathy, love and respect."

It continued, "This incident makes it clear that we have work to do in this space; immediately, we are sharing this incident with our franchise owners worldwide as an example of what not to do, why it is offensive, and what locations should be doing instead. We remain committed to working to inform and educate employees and owners worldwide to stand for our black communities including our members and employees."

Anytime Fitness also stressed on their website that owners of franchises make decision independent of the brand when it comes to local promotional activities.

Anytime Fitness stressed that their franchises make decision independent of the brand when it comes to local promotional activities. Photo: Getty

They wrote, "This experience has further galvanized our commitment to antiracism education within our franchise network. To our employees, franchise owners, members and communities – especially those who are black, Indigenous, and people of colour – we deeply regret today's events, and we will continue to learn from these experiences. Our commitment to eliminating racism within our business is stronger than ever."

The franchise owner also said, "I want to thank all of you for your feedback and concern over the past several days as we have evaluated the actions of our club staff."

They continued, "Once again, I take full responsibility for this unfortunate incident, and I apologise to our staff, members, and community – especially to those who are Black.

"As noted before, I, my co-owner and our staff will participate in the first wave of antiracism training that our franchisor, Self Esteem Brands, will be providing for all of its franchise owners worldwide.

"We will work tirelessly to regain your trust."

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