Connect with us

Health

Man Racially Profiled During Planet Fitness Visit

Published

on

Chris Edmonds (Courtesy Photo)

Chris Edmonds (Courtesy Photo)

By Ashley Johnson
Special to the NNPA from the New Pittsburgh Courier

A Wilkins Township man who has dedicated himself to fitness and helping others, claims that a local gym that advertises a “No Judgment Zone” unjustly kicked him out of their facility and racially profiled him.

Chris Edmonds, owner of Athletic Trauma Unit, a nonprofit that offers free workouts to the community, said a normal trip to the gym with friends turned into a situation unlike any other he has faced in his adulthood.

Edmonds said that after visiting Planet Fitness in Penn Hills on June 8-9 as a guest to work out with his two friends, members Regis Sauers and Tayon Mitchell and without any incidents occurring either day; he received a call hours later from Mitchell informing him that the gym’s general manager said he was no longer welcome at the establishment. The group was accused of working out in a “boot camp” training style, which is viewed as intimidating to other members and prohibited by the gym.

To “clear-up” the situation and restore the reputation of his friends, Edmonds said he and Sauers, the one whose guest pass Edmonds was using, met with Planet Fitness General Manager Sam Travino. According to Edmonds and Sauers, Travino told them that there had been several complaints made to gym staff on both days about their “training” style and that he had also watched footage. When asked why nothing was said to Edmonds, both said they were told it was because the staff “was afraid of him,” that he “intimidating” and seemed “unapproachable.”

Both claim Travino, who is White, said it was because of the way Edmonds looked— a big, bald, bearded, Black man with tattoos. Edmonds and Sauers, who is also White, said what made matters worse, was that they were then complimented by Travino for “being such gentleman” through the whole meeting. They felt it was a slap in the face.

“Your job is to make this a judgment free zone so people feel comfortable, but now I’m uncomfortable. I’m uncomfortable because I walked in here, not knowing that everyone looked at me like the big Black dude who’s working out,” Edmonds said. “For the first time in a long I felt uncomfortable at the gym. Even at LA Fitness (where he is a member and visited after the incident), I felt like, is this what people think about me? Is this how people see me? …I’m thinking to myself, ‘should I shave my beard, wear longer sleeves to cover my tattoos,’ all this is going through my mind as I’m sitting in Planet Fitness.”

Edmonds said he dealt with stereotypes as a youth—living in a certain neighborhood and being judged for the clothes he wore or his haircut—but “now I’m 37 years old and dealing with gym discrimination.”

He went on to say that the whole incident is “really disappointing.”

“I haven’t had to deal with this in a long time,” he said. “It’s bad that they perceive me as intimidating. And to be called that to my face and to tell me it was because I’m big and black and bald with tattoos— All things I can’t change. I can’t change that I’m Black.”

The New Pittsburgh Courier reached out to Travino for comment. He did not return the call, but a statement was sent from Planet Fitness Public Relations Manager Becky Brown. It stated, “To ensure the safety of all members, it is Planet Fitness policy that personal training instruction not provided by certified company instructors is prohibited.”

It went on to say, “At the Penn Hills Planet Fitness, a guest of a Planet Fitness member from another location was part of a group leading training sessions over multiple days. These sessions generated complaints from other members. Planet Fitness managers contacted the group to make them aware of the complaints and club policy, reiterating they all are welcome to work out at Planet Fitness at any time. Planet Fitness is the proud home of the Judgement Free Zone, and we are committed to creating a welcoming environment for all people.”Both, Edmonds and Sauers, maintain that they were not involved in a training session and that it was a workout with friends. The two define training as someone telling someone else what to do and said they barely even interacted. Sauers, who had recently transferred to the Penn Hills location from the Edgewood one, also pointed out that he, Mitchell and another friend worked out together in the same fashion the week before and were never approached by staff about complaints.

He and Edmonds said if there were complaints, which they have not seen proof of; management should have handled the situation better. The statement said that the group was contacted, but both say that it was only Mitchell who was contacted, even though they had Edmonds’ information from him signing in both days as Sauers’ guest.

“If you have kids and your kid brings someone home. You’re not gonna go (talk to someone else), you’re gonna talk to the person that brought them,” Sauers said.

He added, “If the staff would have communicated their issues that they had at the time, there would have been no situation. Being that they didn’t say anything the first day, didn’t say anything the second day, and then just reacted on it, it’s beyond me on how that’s appropriate.

“They make me believe now, and this is my personal belief, that Planet Fitness is a set up for people to go that really don’t want the push, but want to spend the money to make themselves (feel good about going to the gym), They don’t want to see people get better, they don’t want to push people. It’s easier to push yourself and get your goals with a friend and they’re telling us that you can’t work out with a friend, which I misunderstood if that is their policy, because at Planet Fitness in Edgewood we never had a problem.”

Sauers said he and Edmonds had worked out at the Edgewood location as well.

“To tell somebody that they’re really not allowed in their establishment because of their looks, no matter what their looks are, it’s just not right. That’s like telling someone they can’t go to the pool because they’re fat.”

Days after the incident, Planet Fitness in Penn Hills posted a statement on their Facebook page, Planet Fitness-Penn Hills, PA, about their policy prohibiting personal training instruction. It sparked comments from many.

James R Cain III posted “Motivation is feeding your clients pizza to keep them coming back because their ‘training Program’ isn’t working. The ‘complaint’ is BS. All they have to do is say that they can’t disclose the source of the complaint when in all reality the complaint was fabricated. This man inspires not instructs. Guess you’re not allowed to have a workout partner. Your spotter might be taken for an uncertified trainer. (peace sign emoji) deuces!”

And Christine A. Broderick posted, “I complained but not about that. I would have loved someone standing beside me motivating me to push it a little harder. I don’t care about the buff people there I aspire to that. The guy who owns the place needs a lesson in people management start there first he’s not very user friendly.”

Edmonds also took to Facebook and posted about the incident. Some commented that they would be cancelling their memberships.

While the statement from Brown said that all parties were welcome back, Edmonds and Sauers said they do not feel comfortable going back to another Planet Fitness location.

When asked if there was anything that Planet Fitness could do to make the situation better, Edmonds said no. “I’ll never feel comfortable going in a place that has that sign on top of the building.”

Activism

IN MEMORIAM: Robert Farris Thompson, Renowned Professor of African American Studies

Prolific Professor Robert Farris Thompson truly embodied the term ‘Maestro de Maestros.’ He was an absolute giant in the field of Afro-Atlantic history and art, respected by his peers for his groundbreaking work and multiple major articles and publications, particularly the seminal “Flash of the Spirit” (1984) and “Faces of the Gods” (1993).

Published

on

Robert Farris Thompson. Yale University photo.
Robert Farris Thompson. Yale University photo.

TRIBUTE

By John Santos

We’ve lost a Rosetta Stone.

Prolific Professor Robert Farris Thompson passed in his sleep Monday morning due to complications from Alzheimer’s disease and having been weakened by a bout with COVID-19 at the beginning of the year. He would’ve completed his 89th year on December 30.

Born on Dec. 30, 1932, Thompson was a White Texan who spectacularly disproved the fallacy of White supremacy through his pioneering and tireless elevation and clarification of African art, philosophy and culture. He removed the blinders and changed the way that generations of international students see African art.

A U.S. Army veteran, he went to Yale on a football scholarship and earned a B.A. in 1955. He joined the faculty in 1964 and earned his Ph.D. in 1965. He remained on the faculty until 2015.

‘Master T,’ as his students and friends often referred to him, was the Col. John Trumbull professor of the History of Art and professor of African American Studies at Yale University.

Thompson was also an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from the Maryland Institute College of Art.

He curated game-changing national exhibitions such as “African Art in Motion,” “The Four Moments of the Sun: Kongo Art in Two Worlds,” and “Faces of the Gods: Art and Altars of Africa and the African Americas.” The latter had a run at U.C. Berkeley in 1995 when local practitioners of African spirituality and musicians — including myself – demonstrated the powerful knowledge of tradition.

Thompson truly embodied the term ‘Maestro de Maestros.’ He was an absolute giant in the field of Afro-Atlantic history and art, respected by his peers for his groundbreaking work and multiple major articles and publications, particularly the seminal “Flash of the Spirit” (1984) and “Faces of the Gods” (1993). If he did not coin, he certainly standardized the term ‘Black Atlantic.’ He was a brilliant presenter, writer and teacher. But unlike many if not most academicians, he was also loved, revered and respected by the musicians, artists and communities about whom he wrote.

Initiated in Africa to Erinle, the deity of deep, still water, Thompson was hip, quirky and totally immersed in African and African-based music, dance, language, art and history. His lifetime of research, immersion and visionary work formed a bridge between Black America and her African roots.

Countless trips to Africa, the Southern U.S., the Caribbean and Central and South America informed his passionate work. He wrote about sculpture, painting, architecture, dance, music, language, poetry, food, the trans-Atlantic slave trade, African history, stolen antiquities, African spirituality, African retention, Brazil, Haiti, Cuba, Black Argentina, New York, México, mambo, tango, jazz, spirit possession and so much more. He recorded African drumming. He befriended giants of African diaspora music such as Julito Collazo, Babatunde Olatunji and Mongo Santamaría.

I first saw his writing around 1970 on the back of the classic red vinyl 1961 Mongo Santamaria LP, Arriba! La Pachanga (Fantasy 3324). They are inarguably among the deepest liner notes ever written.

He told me that he used our 1984 recording, Bárbara Milagrosa, by the Orquesta Batachanga, to demonstrate danzón-mambo to his students. I nearly burst into tears when he invited me and Omar Sosa to address and perform for his students at Yale, his alma mater, where he was a rock star. It was an unforgettable occasion for me.

He wrote wonderful liner notes on our 2002 Grammy-nominated production SF Bay, by the Machete Ensemble. He went out of his way to support and encourage countless students and followers like me. I was highly honored to count him as a friend as well as mentor.

He will be missed.

John Santos is a seven-time Grammy-nominated percussionist and former director of Orquesta Batachanga and Machete Ensemble and current director of the John Santos Sextet.

Continue Reading

Bay Area

Get Booster Shot, Celebrate Thanksgiving Holiday Safely, State Officials Say

Officials are encouraging people who took both doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine at least six months ago to get their boosters now. People who took the one-shot Johnson & Johnson primary dose at least two months ago, should also schedule their booster shot.

Published

on

According to Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel, the booster shots are being administered under an “emergency use authorization.”
According to Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel, the booster shots are being administered under an “emergency use authorization.”

By Aldon Thomas Stiles, California Black Media

Golden State public health officials are recommending that Californians take COVID-19 booster shots to prevent a resurgence of the disease and to celebrate the holidays safely with their loved ones.

“It’s not too late to get it,” said Dr. Mark Ghaly, secretary of the California Health and Human Services Department, referring to the COVID-19 booster shot. He was speaking at a vaccine clinic in Los Angeles County last week.

“Get that added protection for the Thanksgiving gatherings you may attend,” he said.

Last week, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine boosters for all adults in the United States.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) followed with an endorsement of the booster vaccine, recommending it for people over age 50, and anyone 18 and older who is at higher risk.

The CDC loosened the language for all other adults, saying anyone over age 18 “may” take the shot.

California officials say the booster shots are plenty and available throughout the state.

“If you think you will benefit from getting a booster shot, I encourage you,” said Ghaly. “Supplies are available. There are many sites across the state – thousands in fact.”

On Saturday, the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup completed a separate review of the federal government’s approval process for the booster shots and also recommended that “individuals 18 or older who have completed their primary vaccination series,” take the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna boosters.

California, Oregon, Nevada and Washington state came together last year and created the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup. The group, made up of scientists, medical professionals and public health experts, is charged with reviewing COVID-19 vaccine safety.

Over the last two weeks, COVID-19 infections across the United States have increased at a rate of nearly 33%, according to the CDC.

Officials are encouraging people who took both doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine at least six months ago to get their boosters now. People who took the one-shot Johnson & Johnson primary dose at least two months ago, should also schedule their booster shot.

“COVID-19 boosters are available to all Californians 18 [and over]! Walk-in clinics are open statewide with no appointment necessary – like this mobile clinic in Avenal. Find a clinic or pharmacy near you and get yours today,” Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office chimed in on Twitter.

Newsom has pushed hard for the vaccine booster since he received his last month.

“Great news for the rest of the country. The holidays are here — make sure to keep your immunity up and protect yourself and your loved ones. Get your booster,” Newsom tweeted on November 18.

According to Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel, the booster shots are being administered under an “emergency use authorization.”

California Black Media’s coverage of COVID-19 is supported by the California Health Care Foundation.

Continue Reading

Bay Area

COMMENTARY: Abuse Is Not Love

Domestic violence is the No. 1 violent crime in Marin. Women account for 85% of the victims of intimate partner violence, and men for 15%. Half of the men who assault their wives also assault their children. Adults in same-sex relationships suffer abuse at the same rate as heterosexual couples.

Published

on

photo from www.itv.com.
photo from www.itv.com.

By Godfrey Lee

The Mental Health Advocacy Team of First Missionary Baptist Church (FMBC), along with the Marin City Mental Health Services, and the Center for Domestic Peace, conducted a training called “Working Together to End Domestic Violence” on October 25.

Rev. Ronald Leggett, FMBC’s pastor, hosted the Zoom program.

Cynthia Williams, a domestic violence advocate for peace, and a friend of FMBC, introduced the presenter and facilitator, Meghan Kehoe, from the Center for Domestic Peace.

photo from left: Rev. Ronald Leggett, Meghan Kehoe

photo from left: Rev. Ronald Leggett, Meghan Kehoe

Kehoe says that domestic violence is a pattern of abusive behavior used to exert power and control over an intimate partner. The abuser may use a variety of types of abuse to make sure that they have and maintain control over their partner. These types of domestic violence include physical, emotional, economic, sexual, spiritual abuse as well as stalking and strangulation.

Domestic violence can be physical, but the greatest impact is through verbal and emotional abuse. How victims have been abused and how they feel about themselves will always be present in their mind.

Domestic violence is the No. 1 violent crime in Marin. Women account for 85% of the victims of intimate partner violence, and men for 15%. Half of the men who assault their wives also assault their children. Adults in same-sex relationships suffer abuse at the same rate as heterosexual couples.

Survivors need unconditional support from their friends. Many of those who stay in an abusive relationships have probably lost a lot of friends who love and support the victim but don’t understand the pattern of abuse, and do not understand why the survivor leaves, then returns to the abuser.

Children witness and experience the domestic violence and fear it just as much as the survivor does, if not more, and 60% of them are also victims of the physical violence as well.

The children, youth, and young adults are also being traumatized and affected by the violence. They may not know how to articulate what is happening to their family, or how to feel when their parents are hurting each another. So, talk to them and see if they want to talk to their parents or a safe person in their life.

Even if children know that they are not the cause of the violence, they still feel it in their hearts. Tell them that it is not their fault, and nothing they did caused the violence.

Young people who survive need good information, programs and services to help them find and maintain healthy relationships.

There is never a wrong time to reach out to someone who is being abused in a relationship. And you should also go with them to get help. Connect them to professionals, or a domestic violence agency. Offer them unconditional support a friend who will look out for them no matter what happens to them, what choices they make, whether or not they go back to their abuser, and be there for them in a non-judgmental way, Kehoe said.

For more information, go to centerfordomesticpeace.org. If you are in need of emergency assistance or wish to make an appointment with Center for Domestic Peace, please contact their 24-hour hotline: (English/ Spanish) 415-924-6616.

Continue Reading

CHECK OUT THE LATEST ISSUE OF THE OAKLAND POST

ADVERTISEMENT

WORK FROM HOME

Home-based business with potential monthly income of $10K+ per month. A proven training system and website provided to maximize business effectiveness. Perfect job to earn side and primary income. Contact Lynne for more details: Lynne4npusa@gmail.com 800-334-0540

Facebook

Trending