Jan 27, 2020

    A Woman Complained About Being Harassed By A Man At Gymbox And A Manager Suggested That Testosterone Could Be To Blame

    "This mean that reactions to situations can be a bit extreme especially for men.”

    View Pictures / Universal Images Group via Getty

    A manager for popular gym chain Gymbox has told a woman “testosterone levels” could be to blame for the behaviour of a male gym member who she said harassed her and another woman.

    Elena Bunbury, from Huddersfield, shared the response from the member of staff at Stratford Gymbox after she submitted a complaint email following an incident with another member.

    In an email shared on Twitter, the manager claimed to not have received Bunbury’s original message and explained that she had never received any complaints about the gym member, who was accused of aggressive behaviour.

    She wrote: “From my personal point of view it is an unfortunate situation where a guy was rude to you, but it could have happened anywhere. We are in a gym where testosterone levels are high especially during workouts. This mean (sic) that reactions to situations can be a bit extreme especially for men.”

    So a random gym goer harassed me and my friend at our first visit to @GYMBOXofficial, this is the response we got.. Glad to see @GYMBOXofficial staff justifying aggressive behaviour because it’s never happened to them, and men have testosterone..

    The 22-year-old told BuzzFeed News: "The thing that baffles me in all of this is that...Gymbox staff member is a female which I think makes it even worse."

    "Number one, you're basically starting off by telling me you don't believe it, 'Well I've never had issues in our gym.' Great. Good for you. And then she said she's never had any complaints about that gym member and then... she goes, ‘From my personal point of view, it could have happened to you anywhere.' It genuinely blows my mind."

    She says the incident at the centre of her complaint happened on her first visit to the gym late last year. Bunbury described how, as a new member, she had gone along with with a friend and how, during her workout, the two women were approached by a male member who insisted on using a machine the pair were still using.

    "He walked over, he didn't say excuse me or anything, he just walked over and was like 'if you're going to be taking that long in between sets I'm going to have to jump in with you.'"

    According to Bunbury, when the women explained that they were alternating on the machine, the gym goer mocked the pair before walking away evidently annoyed.

    "He laughed, eye-rolled and walked off while muttering something under his breath.

    “I very quietly turned to Rosie and asked what his problem was, he overheard and came storming back,” said Bunbury.

    He said: "if you're laughing and smiling when you're doing legs, then you're not doing legs. Pathetic."

    Elena Bunbury / Via Instagram

    She claims that as well as shaming her and exchanging words with her friend who attended the gym on a guest pass, the gym goer made a point of working out near them to intimidate them. The encounter left Bunbury uneasy and her response was to raise the issue directly with the gym in an email sent on January 1.

    She wrote: "Whilst we were continuing our workout, he was just staring at us, if we were on a weight machine, he would come and use the one right next to us, it was quite uncomfortable.

    “It was really intimidating how he was just getting up in my face and shaming me but I'm not here to be judge and jury, that's not why I complained. I complained in the hope that they would take it into their own hands and they would have policies in place to deal with things like this.”

    Reacting to the email she received today from a member of staff, Bunbury said: “The entire tone of the response email was just wrong. I just think an apology was needed from the guy but for the woman to go ahead and sort of justify what he did was quite sickening. They're essentially just telling me to get on with it and get over it. I just really think this really made me question the entire ethos of Gymbox"

    Elena Bunbury / Via Instagram, Supplied / Via Twitter

    Established in London in 2003, Gymbox is known for its high impact classes and club-like feel — it regularly hosts DJs in the workout area.

    After sharing the manager's email response on social media, Bunbury cautioned the company against responding with “a knee jerk decision” as she didn’t feel like the member of staff was a “malicious” person, but simply lacked “knowledge and empathy".

    “I feel like because it is on Twitter and people have seen it, they are going to feel more under pressure to do something which may make them react unfairly to her as opposed to how they would normally would,” she said.

    A spokesperson for Gymbox told BuzzFeed News: “We expect all members and guests to conduct themselves in a respectful manner and we will fully investigate this incident. We have also addressed with our team member involved her response to the complaint and we will be retraining all our team members on how they handle a situation like this should it occur again.”

    Ade Onibada is a junior reporter at BuzzFeed and is based in London.

    Contact Ade Onibada at ade.onibada@buzzfeed.com.

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