The Knuckleheads of the Day award
Today's winners are Planet Fitness and their manager of the Wappinger Falls gym, Carol Palazzolo. They get the award for the following.
WAPPINGERS FALLS, N.Y., Nov. 13 — Albert Argibay, a bodybuilder and a state correction officer, was at a Planet Fitness gym with 500 pounds of weight on his shoulders one afternoon this month when the club manager walked over and told him it was time to leave. Mr. Argibay, the manager explained, had violated one of the club’s most sacred and strictly enforced rules: He was grunting.Don't grunt, don't breathe. Better yet, just pay your membership dues and don't ever come to the gym. That's what the company's policy looks like to me. Planet Fitness and Carol Palazzolo are today's Knuckleheads of the day.
“I said to her, ‘I’m not grunting, I’m breathing heavy,’ ” recalled Mr. Argibay, 40, an energetic man with the hulking appearance of a pro linebacker. “I guess she didn’t like the fact that I challenged her, because she said to me, ‘Meet me up front; I’m canceling your membership.’ ”
He continued lifting, but soon was surrounded by town police officers, who told him to drop the weight slowly and pack his bag, then escorted him from the gym. Now Mr. Argibay is considering suing the club, claiming the notoriety the incident earned him in this cozy 5,000-person town 75 miles north of Manhattan is tantamount to defamation. Mr. Argibay said he has endured ridicule from colleagues who call him and make grunting noises, and he fears that inmates will lose respect for him.
Grunting, rude as it may be, has been commonplace in gyms for as long as weights have been lifted. At most health clubs, grunts elicit little more than annoyed looks or sighs of irritation. But at Planet Fitness, a national chain with 120 locations, it is a matter not only of etiquette, but also of club policy: one too many offending noises can get a membership revoked in the time it takes to do a sit-up. Nationwide, the chain expels roughly two members a month for various reasons, most commonly grunting and dropping weights.
The no-grunt policy is one of several eyebrow-raising rules — no bandannas, no jeans, no banging weights — that managers say are intended to make their target clientele of novice exercisers feel comfortable.
The manager who confronted Mr. Argibay, Carol Palazzolo, said without hesitation that people who feel the need to grunt should take their sweat elsewhere, though she said Mr. Argibay was expelled largely because he became hostile when she confronted him, a claim he disputes.
“He immediately created an intimidating atmosphere not only for me but for the guests around me,” Ms. Palazzolo said. “He got very offensive and very loud, so I walked away and I called the police department.”
Planet Fitness bills itself as “The Judgment Free Zone.” But in the weeks since Mr. Argibay was booted, a number of members have accused the gym of judging with extreme prejudice, saying the club humiliates members whose physiques are too chiseled and who take their workouts too seriously. And the incident has raised other imponderable questions.
How does one distinguish between a grunt and a very deep breath? Must a grunt be “characteristic of a hog,” as one dictionary defines it? And what if there are no patrons around to take offense? What would happen if Monica Seles and Maria Sharapova, known for their noisy exertion on the tennis court, showed up wanting to work out?
Hat tip- James Joyner at OTB
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