GoodLife Fitness — staff services
The purpose of this email is to inform you of an incident which occurred at Goodlife Queen Street in Ottawa, Ontario.
On the night of June 28, 2017 at approximately 8:00pm I was working out in the downstairs of the gym when a man walked in who was speaking abusively on the phone. He was speaking in a vulgar, aggressive and obnoxious tone and was using profanities that I am not comfortable using in an email. I watched this behaviour disturb others, including a female staff. It was allowed it to continue for more than ten minutes. I watched as Alex (unknown last name) who was on shift, acknowledged that someone was being extremely aggressive and walked by him and ignored it.
Let me be clear that I do not pay to work in out in a hostile, abusive environment.
I stopped my machine, turned back to the man and told him to take his conversation elsewhere.
The man immediately started screaming at me, he told me I was an animal and other things that I was not able to comprehend as I was terrified. I was subjected to inappropriate and aggressive behaviour, and I genuinely felt scared. Alex (the staff member), then told me in a rude and aggressive tone that "he would deal with it and to keep to myself" or something along those lines. The guy continued to scream at me. I started to panic and started becoming emotional and ran upstairs to the change room to get my things.
When I was able to stop hyperventilating and went downstairs to leave, I demanded the manager's number. The male staff at the desk would not give it to me until I asked numerous times. He told me to wait there... He actually wanted me to stand in that position and allow that man to yell at me so that I would not need to call the manager and get anyone in trouble.
All this time, the man who had initially had been yelling at me was still screaming and trying to instigate a fight with me. I ignored him and he continued to scream, saying he would call the police on me, used the word "animal" again, said something about "not talking to a man like that" and was trying to provoke me. Let me be clear and say all the while, both Alex and another male staff were watching this. The man stood near the (only) exit so when I was leaving and continued to scream as I walked by crying. This is not okay.
Here is my issue, if it isn't evident already. The way this was handled by staff is completely inappropriate. I can live with the fact that there are some bad people in the world. But what is completely and utterly unacceptable, is the fact that I was subjected to this behaviour and no one tried to get him to stop or ask him to leave.
I am 19 years old. I have been with Goodlife for 3 years with the exception of a three-month break in 2015. I am a loyal, respectful and polite member and I frequently use the club to destress from my life. I will not allow myself to be subject to an abusive environment and I most certainly I will not tolerate that if it is somewhere I pay to use and have an understanding that I am safe and secure.
But it continued to get worse. I then tried to call the number that was given to me by the employee for the manager. It brought me straight to the front desk, so I was unable to leave a message for the manager to call me back tomorrow. When I asked to be put through to voicemail, I was handed off to another employee who then continued to tell me that it was my fault and I should come into the club tomorrow to explain my side of the story. The conversation continued for about ten minutes, during this time the staff member told me to "settle down" and that "it would probably be okay".
I asked him if he was serious that he was saying that I am in the wrong here. He told me I started it. He said that because I initiated the conversation. So what he was saying is that I was allowed to be subjected to that behaviour. When I asked why no staff had intervened, he told me he that they didn't want to get involved. I also asked numerous times to cancel my membership. but instead, he kept telling me to not cancel and to come into the club and "tell my side of the story". I can tell you one thing right now-I will never walk into Goodlife on Queen Street again. I feel unsafe, I feel like I was not protected in any way from this verbal abuse and I no longer feel welcome there. I am most likely going to cancel my membership altogether, unfortunately. For the moment it will remain on hold.
So let me tell you what this entire night has told me. Not only does Goodlife Fitness not respect the rights of its customers to have a safe environment- but you also have staff that is ignorant, rude and completely insensitive to how this may have affected me. I brought up the fact on the phone that with your staff that this is very different from the perspective of a young woman. and he told me "it's not a gender issue".
So I would like to know at what point it becomes acceptable for a grown man to belittle and demean a young girl in front of many staff while she sobs and hyperventilates... and for nothing to be said or done to try and de-escalate the situation? They also could have offered me a place to sit down and calm down until I was okay. But no. Instead, I got a lot of attitudes and no empathy at all for how this may have affected me.
I will give credit to the younger female employee who ran after me and walked with me until I calmed down. She was very kind and understanding. She deserves to be recognized because she brought me down from a severe panicked state and I thank her immensely for that. While we were walking, I explained why I felt the way I did- and she told me that she actually noticed the man's aggressive behaviour too and told ALEX (staff) and he did nothing.
I cannot find the words to express how sincerely disappointed I am and hurt by this experience at Goodlife. Although I have enjoyed my experience with the company and working out has helped me overcome many barriers in my life, I do not intend to return. I am genuinely concerned with the lack of staff awareness of managing hostile situations and the training being implemented so they can respond appropriately. There were many conflict intervention strategies that could have been used. An obvious one would have been to take the man into an office where he could calm down and no one else would be subjected to that.
I have contacted the complaint registration form because I do not feel safe in the GoodLife clubs and I do not want to be forced into going to speak with the manager there.
I wish to advise you of the situation that has occurred- and inform you of exactly why I will most likely be canceling my membership as a result of this. You should know that the staff went to a great deal of effort to ensure I wasn't going to follow up with a regional manager or complain to head office. The impression I got was that I was going to be pushed under the rug. The idea of going in and sitting down with the manager at that gym is not feasible for me as I genuinely feel they fail to recognize how inappropriate and wrong this situation was.
I would like to speak to someone about why this hostile environment was allowed to persist to the degree that it did and would like a sincere and genuine apology for the way this was handled. This has emotionally upset me in a way that is profoundly uncomfortable and I do hope that by informing you of this situation- an event like this will not happen again to another person.
I would like to be clear with this complaint that I am not upset about the fact that the man yelled at me, so much as I am by the way it was handled. While I can accept that there are some angry and abusive people in the world and I may have provoked the wrong one tonight, I will not accept to place myself in an environment where my fundamental rights as a human being are being violated and where I am being told that this was my fault and they didn't want to "get involved".
I apologize for the incredibly long email. I hope that you understand the grave nature of my concern and the sincerity behind my hurt for what happened tonight.
Thank you for your time,
Client number: A879225
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