Last June, the philosopher of technology Ian Bogost wrote an essay that called the BlackBerry (and, by extension, all smartphones) “the cigarette of this century.” Like smoking, he reasoned, our use of these products has begun to be mitigated by public health concerns and other sociopolitical forces.
What he couldn’t have predicted, however, was a woman getting her gym membership revoked because she was using her cellphone. But that’s exactly what happened to Tina Santoro Asmar this week when she got kicked out of Planet Fitness after she was caught using her phone while exercising on the elliptical.
The Boston Herald reports that the Planet Fitness Boston location has a very strict policy against using phones on the gym floor, only allowing for cellphone use in the lobby. Asmar admitted that she was in violation of the gym’s policy but insisted that the phone call was urgent. Despite doing her best to mollify the gym’s manager, Asmar said that he was less than understanding.
“I said I'd be off in a minute. He said, 'I said now,'” Asmar told the Herald. “His demeanor was very threatening. I said, 'Oh, please, please step away from me,' and he continued to say, 'No, I need you to hang up that phone now, or I'm going to cancel your membership.'”
Planet Fitness, for its part, maintained that the most recent incident resulting in her expulsion from the gym was just one example of Asmar’s repeated violations of the gym’s policies.
"This is a member that's had repeated issues and incidents with cellphone use. I can assure you that our manager would not be treating a member poorly,” Brian Kablik, the gym’s co-owner, said to the Herald. “Her reaction, when she was approached in a professional way, was extremely unprofessional and rude and dismissive."
A corporate spokesperson for Planet Fitness added in a statement to Fox Boston that the gym franchise “prides itself on providing a unique, enjoyable environment where everyone can feel comfortable and where lasting, active lifestyles are built.” Along with its trademarked “judgment-free zone philosophy,” a strict anti-cellphone policy, therefore, “means members can relax, get in shape and have fun without being judged by others.”
“In an effort to preserve this positive environment, and for the safety of our nearly 4 million members nationwide, it is corporate policy that cellphone use is only permitted in the lobby,” the statement added. “Use of cellphones on the gym floor or while using equipment is dangerous for individual members and distracting to others.”
Asmar has not disputed her specific offense as proper grounds from expulsion from Planet Fitness, instead saying that she just wants “an apology.”