Gym faces backlash for posting photos of members' butts on Instagram
"Dayum!", "#BlueRidgeGirls" and "#HumpDay!" were the three captions used in an Instagram story, depicting the derrieres of women exercising at Blue Ridge CrossFit in Fletcher, North Carolina. The video, which was posted on Friday by the gym's owner, Tom Tomlo, has since provoked massive social media backlash for sexualising the bodies of apparently non-consenting female gym members.
The clip posted to the gym's Instagram story, showed a morning workout session where several women, dressed in stretchy, black leggings, were bent over, exercising. Next to the women's bottoms (which were originally not censored with the black circles seen below), Tomlo had written the three phrases and accompanied them with several emojis: the peach emoji, smiley emoji with star eyes (placed right next to one unidentified woman's rear), a "rock on" hand emoji (also placed next to a female gym member's buttocks), and a winky face emoji with its tongue sticking out.
Tomlo, who has also co-founded two other CrossFit Gyms, originally defended the video by saying that his comments were "lighthearted and fun". However, other members of the location didn't find his blatant objectification of women's bodies to be so "fun". One member, who has chosen to remain anonymous, took screenshots of the Instagram story and posted them to the Blue Ridge CrossFit's Facebook page, saying "This is not okay".
The gym's owner then took to the gym's Facebook page to post a now-deleted defence of his actions. "…Some people chose to get butt hurt today and make a public post in this group," he wrote.
"You must have lost your f***ing mind if for one moment you think this is a platform or community for you to create some bullshit like that…I do not play those games and we do not acknowledge that type of petty, feeble minded garbage. Creating some sort of delusional and ignorant drama is not your option here…BRCF is a world of reality and [built] with positive minded, forward thinking, rational human beings and it will stay that way.”
While the initial Instagram video disappeared after 24 hours (as per Instagram's guidelines), Tomlo also removed his expletive-ridden tirade from his gym's Facebook page. However, North Carolina resident, Anna Pirog, took screenshots of both the offensive clip and Tomlo's response and posted them publicly on social media.
Pirog's post has now been shared over 200 times, encouraging people to leave one-star ratings on the gym's Facebook and Yelp pages. Blue Ridge CrossFit has also purportedly lost several members and coaches as a result of Tomlo's post - this is according to a former member who left the gym after being a member there for three years.
In an interview with WLOS, Tom Tomlo insisted that the captions were taken "out of context", and that the ensuing maelstrom is a "misunderstanding". "We do pictures of guys’ butts around here, we have an informal loving family and it’s not a negative thing," he said. "We were having fun. We were videoing, talking about booties that day."
However, a quick scroll through both Blue Ridge CrossFit's and Tomlo's personal Instagram account reveals no videos or photographs of male or female buttocks.