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Pregnant woman: I was booted from gym for baby bump - abc27 WHTM

Pregnant woman: I was booted from gym for baby bump

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Mantor says this is the outfit she was wearing when a Planet Fitness employee asked her to leave (provided) Mantor says this is the outfit she was wearing when a Planet Fitness employee asked her to leave (provided)
Mantor said the same tank, shown here before she was pregnant, rides up when she moves around (provided) Mantor said the same tank, shown here before she was pregnant, rides up when she moves around (provided)
Planet Fitness Dress Code as shown on their corporate Facebook page Planet Fitness Dress Code as shown on their corporate Facebook page
By Sandra Ecklund
secklund@abcnews4.com

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- A woman working out at the West Ashley Planet Fitness says she was asked to leave mid-workout Monday night because her "belly was hanging out."

The customer, Melissa Mantor, is also 18 weeks pregnant.

Mantor said she was working out at the Sam Rittenberg location when an employee approached her and told her she had to leave.

"I was on the treadmill for about 10 minutes before I was approached by a girl who came up to me telling me that she is going to have to ask me to leave," Mantor said. "I was very confused by this and thought I may have heard her wrong. She told me again that I am not able to continue my workout until I change my clothes because I am in violation of their dress code."

The Planet Fitness Corporate Dress Code does not mention exposed midriffs but does ban "string tank tops" which Mantor was wearing at the time.

However, it wasn't the straps they seemingly had a problem with. Mantor says she has several of the same tank top in different colors and wears them to the gym all the time. She even had her photo taken at the gym wearing the same top (but in gray) for her membership file.

"I was very confused. She continued telling that my belly was hanging out and I need to get it covered up," Mantor explained. "I told her at that time 'Of course my belly is hanging out, I am pregnant.' She handed me a very large t-shirt while telling me that what I was wearing was inappropriate and in violation of their dress code."

Mantor provided photos of her wearing the offending tank, both with a baby bump and before she was pregnant. She admits the top rides up when she moves around but that had never been a problem at the gym before.

ABC News 4 contacted the local gym's manager and was directed to the corporate office.

McCall Gosselin, Director of Public Relations for Planet Fitness, released the following statement.

"The majority of Planet Fitness clubs are owned and operated by individual franchisees. Our corporate dress code policy, which is enforced at the discretion of club staff, states that jeans, boots, men’s string tank tops, or revealing clothing are prohibited. This particular location also had a stated policy that prohibited bare midriffs. In this instance, a staff member approached the member to inform her of the policy and offer her a free t-shirt to complete her workout. She was not asked to leave the gym as a result of her attire.”

"I have been wearing that outfit for three years without complaint," Mantor said. "T-shirts are terribly uncomfortable for me to work out in while getting sweaty and lifting weights. I have had equal amounts of my midriff showing from the day I began going to this the gym. The night of the 21st was the first time I attended the gym while noticeably pregnant."

"We believe that this corporate dress code policy helps us to consistently promote a non-intimidating atmosphere at Planet Fitness where members can feel comfortable working out no matter which Planet Fitness location they are using," the Planet Fitness dress code reads. "The managers will use their discretion when it comes to any workout attire that they believe is either inappropriate, offensive, or will cause safety concerns."

Planet Fitness markets itself as a "Judgement Free Zone." The facility even employs what they call a "Lunk Alarm" that goes off if "someone is grunting at the gym, drops weights or is judging others/making others feel uncomfortable."

They explain their seeming hypocrisy of judging "Lunks" online, saying that historically gyms promoted a "condescending message" that "whatever you’re doing now isn’t good enough."

"For the very small number of people who don’t follow our rules, well, you’re right, you could argue that we’re judging them," their policy reads. "Our gym is not designed for Olympic athletes or bodybuilders. There are plenty of other gyms for people at that level."

"Planet Fitness advertises their 'no Judgement policy. I have never felt so judged and embarrassed in my life," said Mantor. "I am 18 weeks pregnant, have a 3-year-old daughter. It is hard enough for me to get the motivation to stay healthy and exercise. Being told that I do not look appropriate enough to be working out really took the wind out of my sails. I feel like this was embarrassing and completely out of line. Nobody wants to go to the gym being told that they need to cover up their body because it is offensive."

Mantor said her encounter was a situation that was too embarrassing to bear.

"I even had people (working out next to her) comment about the situation, which was extremely embarrassing," she said. "Being a pregnant woman getting kicked out of the gym for being dressed inappropriately...I am a mother and a modest person. I do not want to be told I am dressed inappropriately."

This isn't the first time the workout chain has asked a woman to leave because of her attire.

Last month a California woman claimed she was asked to leave her local Planet Fitness because she was "too toned" and "intimidated" the other members.  Gosselin told The Huffington Post that wasn't the case, that the woman was asked to leave for wearing a revealing outfit.

That woman, who happens to be a University of California at Berkeley Law graduate, told MSNBC's The Grio that she may sue if she finds there is a pattern of this happening at other facilities.

Earlier this month, a teen in Michigan was asked to leave her neighborhood Planet Fitness for wearing a tank that was much baggier and covered a lot more of her torso than either Mantor or the Berkeley grad. She was later offered a lifetime membership to a competing gym.

As for Mantor, she was not charged a cancellation fee. She also has access to the facilities until her membership runs out on May 16, but she said she could not imagine being "comfortable enough to step foot in that gym again." She canceled her membership on Tuesday and had another awkward encounter with gym staff.

"When I went into the gym to cancel my membership, my account must have been flagged because the girl filling out my cancellation form told me that she was told by her boss to remind me that I was in violation of the dress code," she said. "I then showed her the picture of my gym attire. She started asking more questions causing a scene in front of two other patrons and two employees, so I walked away."

Gosselin said the owner of the West Ashley location would be reaching out to Mantor directly to address the situation.

"At Planet Fitness, we are committed to providing a comfortable and welcoming environment for everyone," Gosselin said. "We are working with the franchise owner to clarify the dress code policy moving forward.”

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