WASHINGTON – New year, new you! It’s how the saying goes. At Life Time Fitness, it’s a whole new policy. The company has decided to turn off cable news. No more CNN, Fox News, MSNBC or CNBC.
Life Time would not go on camera, but sent FOX 5 the following statement about the change:
“We made the decision to remove cable news channels from the large TV screens in the cardio and fitness floor areas at the start of 2018. This was based on many member requests received over time across the country, and in keeping with our overall healthy way of life philosophy and commitment to provide family oriented environments free of consistently negative or politically charged content. Local news station affiliates are still on our large screens and we have Wi-Fi throughout our clubs so members can view the content of their choice on their own devices.
“Ultimately, it always is our goal to meet the vast majority of members’ expressed requests and we believe this change is consistent with the desires of the overall membership as well as our desire to uphold a positive, family oriented, healthy way of life environment.”
Customers will still get other channels such as USA, A&E, Discovery, HGTV, ESPN and local news.
However, it’s a decision that comes with mixed reaction.
“As a gym-goer and somebody who likes to focus on my workouts, and I’m not very political, that appeals to me,” explained Skyler Nordstrom, the assistant general manager at Crunch Fitness in the Friendship Heights neighborhood of D.C. “As somebody who works in a gym and kind of knows the pulse of a gym, it’s not a decision I would make personally for our club just because of how important politics are in D.C.”
Nordstrom said people even schedule their workouts around their favorite show.
“If that is what motivates you, as long as you keep it to yourself, I think that is alright,” added Nordstrom.
Right after the election, some people may have needed some reminding.
“We had to put signs out because people were coming in pretty frustrated, and so we just said, ‘Hey, please come in and work out, and work out your frustrations,’ but that is about as far as we can go with that,” explained Nordstrom. “We just didn’t want to get in the middle of it all.”
Life Time Fitness isn’t the first to enact a ban. In early 2017, some YMCA locations pulled 24-hour cable news programs after its members got into fights.
Life Time customers are now taking to Twitter.
My message to @lifetimefitness about banning the news. RT if you agree! #censorship #democracy pic.twitter.com/Ebq0xR5hSK
— Irene Kistler (@IreneKistler) January 6, 2018
“I just want to say that I do not support your ban on news programs,” said Irene Kistler, speaking directly to Life Time in a video posted on Twitter. “I wore my Clinton-Kaine shirt to the club today and no one cared … Don’t be afraid of democracy, put the news back on. Banning the news is really kind of un-American. And if you have a political shirt and you’re a Life Time member, I encourage you to wear it. If you’re a Trump fan, let that freak flag fly. If you’re a Bernie fan, feel the Bern. Put it on. If you’re a Clinton fan, wear that shirt. Dig it out, dust it off, wear it proudly. Don’t be afraid of democracy Life Time. Democracy is what makes America great.”
But some are applauding the gym’s decision.
“I think in D.C. going to the gym and the gym being a respite away from political conversation, I think that’s absolutely alright,” said Cortland Bradford, a member of Crunch Fitness. “I think that’s good. I think we should focus more on the commonalities in that space of working out and fitness and health versus a political discussion.”
Life Time Fitness said if they really want it, customers can still get their cable news fix through Wi-Fi on their own devices.