WAUWATOSA, Wis. — Anytime Fitness is apologizing after offering an “I Can’t Breathe” workout at one of its Wisconsin locations.
“We were shocked and devastated to see that one of our franchise locations chose to offer an ‘I Can’t Breathe’ workout,” the company said in a statement regarding the incident in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. “No matter the intent, we absolutely do not condone the words, illustrations or actions this represents.”
A photo of the workout has been circulating online. It shows a dry erase board with a drawing of a man colored in black kneeling next to workout details that end with the words “And don’t you dare lay down.”
The photo, which has appeared on Reddit, TMZ and other online sites, has since been taken down.
The words “I can’t breathe” were uttered by George Floyd as he died in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25. Protesters nationwide have chanted “I can’t breathe” in solidarity.
“You got a man that lost his life. Sometimes people don’t really understand what’s going on here in the community,” Marc Taylor, a member at the gym, told WTMJ.
One member of the Wauwatosa gym told WDJT he thinks the meaning of the workout was taken out of context.
“I feel like it was more of a kneeling in protest of what’s happened with the police force. And not what it could’ve been construed as. That was just my feeling, although I have not lived the life of people that are protesting so I can’t say how they feel,” said Chad Huffman.
Angelo Rogers, who apparently created the workout, said it was meant to honor Floyd and raise awareness, according to WDJT.
“I think fitness helps people come together and I think largely that’s what my message is. We can come together in a positive way to impact change. The message of the workout is more a rallying cry, it’s a symbol social injustice, directed towards social injustice,” said Rogers.
Anytime Fitness in Wauwatosa issued this apology:
“To our members, employees and community:
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.”