Equinox executives tried to alleviate panic among employees freaked out that gym members were canceling memberships in the wake of news that Chairman Stephen Ross was holding a Trump fundraiser in the Hamptons.
The Cut reports on the call and has details: “In the days since the Washington Post first reported Ross’s fundraiser for Trump, employees have called for protests and swarms of people have canceled their memberships, compelling Equinox president Scott Rosen and COO Judy Turchin to hold a call to assure employees with messaging of unity and company values. And yet, they attempted to do so while also defending Ross’s values and insisting he does not align himself with Trump.”
Said one employee on the call: “I know it’s not our views but this goes beyond just LGBTQ, it goes with children being put in cages, people being deported, children dying, mass murders happening because of rhetoric that [Trump] states. The whole thing is that even though [Ross] is an investor, the money that people pay to Equinox still goes in his pocket, and they know that, and that is the problem. Equinox can say, ‘We don’t view this, we don’t view this,’ as much as they want, but the problem is that the money people are spending is enriching him, and he is giving it to this person that is really polarizing.”
Replied Rosen: “I will tell you one thing: He’s actually a very good guy, he’s making a huge mistake here. He actually doesn’t agree with a lot of what Donald Trump says, and I actually think he voted for Hillary. Not that it matters, because he’s maybe made a stupid move here and it’s not us. We define us.”
Much more about the call here.
In related news, Trump joked about the controversy at the Hamptons fundraiser, the New York Post reports: ‘Noting the relentless attacks on himself by the media, Trump quipped, “Steve Ross got into a little bit of trouble this week, I said, ‘Steve welcome to the world of politics!’”‘
And one New York City Councilman is making it easier for people to cancel memberships. “I am drafting legislation that would make it easier to cancel memberships at businesses, like gyms or fitness clubs,” New York City councilman Keith Powers tweeted Friday. “The recent Equinox experiences highlighted what many New Yorkers experience daily — a complicated maze just to cancel a single membership.”
And writer, activist, and SiriusXM radio host Michelangelo Signorile took matters into his own hands.
Wrote Signorile on Facebook: “Something I did the other morning on my run: I had printed out a stack of an NBC News story about the Equinox boycott because of the owner’s Trump fundraiser. And I went to Equinox/Soul Cycle in Chelsea and handed them out to people entering and exiting. I did this for 45 minutes and had 4 people who went in and came out and had canceled their memberships. Other people were coming to cancel, say goodbye to trainers. The manager came out and told me she called the police. I was on public property, as I told her, and there wasn’t anything the police could do. (They never did come.)”
“Here’s the most important point,” Signorile added. “While many knew of the Trump fundraiser in the Hamptons, many did not, and were horrified. We think in this age of cell phones and TVs everywhere that people are paying attention to everything. They are not. That’s indeed one reason we got Trump! This underscores why it’s important to get in the streets and engage people, still to this day.”
“One guy was an asshole (Angrily dismissing me with an, “I’m not political!”),” Signorile continued. “Another guy said “I don’t support Trump but people have a right to donate to who they want,” blah blah and claimed to be a Dem fundraiser himself and with the DNC’s LGBT whatever committee (Screw you!). Others clearly didn’t want to engage. But most were open and friendly. Two women who came to the juice bar said that’s it for them with Soul Cycle. People talked to me for a while, and while some, as I said, did cancel right away (according to what they told me upon exiting), others said they would think about it and were leaning that way. One guy asked me permission to take one more class (haha.) I said fine.”
Added Signorile: “The manager said to me, after a woman had come out saying she canceled, ‘Think about the people you’re hurting!’ Mind you, all I was doing was informing people of something and engaging them in discussion — not hurting anyone. I guess she meant the workers — but we’ve been through this many times with boycotts. It’s unfortunate, but we have to send a message to owners and they are the ones hurting everyone, including their employees.”
Signorile suggested people do what he did: “Anyway, any of you can do this — just print out copies of your favorite articles. It’s a few minutes of your time on the way to work or whatever. Be polite. The customers aren’t the enemy — even if some might get nasty — and obviously they like their gym. (I’m a former Equinox member, so I understand; I gave them suggestions on other gyms). But many also understand why this is important and will at least think about it.”