LA Fitness - Unfair access to facilities (men only)
IRVINE, CALIFORNIA -- I joined LA Fitness in June 2010, partly because they have a basketball court and I love to shoot - typically after a challenging cardio workout. I try to time my workouts so that I am not at the club at the busiest times so I will not be impinging on full court games put together by men. As a woman and at 51, I have no desire to play full-on basketball, nor any other contact sport, with a bunch of playground males.
One afternoon I went to the court to play and there was a group of men playing full court. I went to the front desk and asked what the bball court policy was to see when I would get a chance to play (thinking that like the cardio equip policy, when it is busy and people are waiting, there is a 20 minute limit on the equipment.) I was told there was no policy. I explained that this made it difficult for me to use the court - if I knew when there would be full court games, I could schedule my workouts around them. I was told to call "corporate", that there was no policy. I decided to try to anticipate when the club was busy and not go at those times.
About a week or so later, I went to LA Fitness on an early Saturday evening when the club was sparsely attended. Lo and behold, when I went to the bball court, there was a group of males playing full court. I went to the front desk again, and asked again to please put together a usage policy for the basketball court, whether it be a schedule or time limits, something so as a member I could have equal access to the court. I was told by the attendant that there that there was nothing he could do and that I needed to call "corporate". I returned to the court and at first I simply shot while avoiding the players ( i.e. when the game was centered on one end of the court, I took a shot or two until the game moved back to my end). Another LA Fitness employee came to the gym and I told him that this was not a good situation. He told me that, "You should play with the guys." I replied that I did not play contact sports with males, that it was dangerous among other things. He then told me that I should call "corporate". At some point my ball got away from me and interfered in the game - a dangerous situation for the players and one I did not want to create. I left the gym.
On the following Monday I called the LA Fitness in Bellevue, and asked for the manager. I got a woman and after I explained the situation, she assured me that indeed she was the correct person to speak to. After discussing the problem, she told me that if a member wanted to use the court and others were playing full court, that the full court game needed to change to a half court game so other members could use the court. I told her that she needed to inform the employees of this because clearly this was not well known. She also told me that if a situation like that occurred, that I should go to the front desk and an employee would tell the full court players of the policy. I went to the gym yesterday (Friday) afternoon, thinking I was before the busy after work crowd, and did my cardio workout, then went to the basketball court. There was a group of men milling about on the court, but I could tell they were getting ready to organize a game. I began shooting, then a few minutes later they just started playing. I loudly said that they would have to play half court, based on what the "manager" had explained to me. One of the players began to argue with me, saying that they played this game regularly, that he has never seen me before. I told him that I would not argue with him, that I had tried to get LA Fitness to have a policy on full court times/court usage, such as posting a schedule, but they would not so I had no choice. This man then stood in the middle of the court and stared and me while I shot baskets. At one point one of the men asked me how much longer I would be playing - I responded that no more than 10-15 minutes. In the meantime, someone went to the front desk and got a "manager" (still not clear what his title was). This young man (he looked to be in his twenties) came up to the court (it was becoming a spectacle)and told me that the woman I had spoken with earlier in the week was not really a manager, that she was just in charge of finances and that he was the true person in authority. He said that because the men were on the court first, and that because there were ten of them and just one of me, that they could use the entire court and if I wanted to shoot I could not. When I explained that this precluded me from playing, i.e. being able to use the facilities - and could there please be a time limit so I could have turn - he replied that no, if there were ten members who wanted to play full court continuously then too bad for me.
It was extremely humiliating, and reminiscent of the days when I was younger, before Title 9, when females were not allowed equal access to sports programs and facilitates. If a member wanted to play basketball but not with the bullies who have the court, they would be out of luck. This is not a government entity, so Title 9 and other civil rights laws probably do not apply, but I pay just as much money to belong as male members, yet I do not get equal access to the facilities. The Good Ol' Boys club and its stupidity are alive and well at LA Fitness - I am going to have my lawyer attempt to get my money back.