Opinion: This Disabled WeHo Gym Doesn’t Merit a Disabilities Service Award


In every small town there are businesses that stand out from their competitors – sometimes because of their length of service, sometimes because of their quality of service, sometimes because they are classic mom ‘n pop businesses that have managed to thrive and stay alive despite being battered by the early wave of chain competitors and today’s seismic surge of online product and service providers.

In West Hollywood, one of those businesses is 24 Hour Fitness, the gym on the south side of Santa Monica Boulevard near Westmount that is part of a chain based in San Ramon that claims to operate 425 fitness centers. 24 Hour (which in West Hollywood actually closes at midnight Monday through Thursday and 11 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday ) stands out because of its location in a heavily trafficked part of town. And it also stands out because it occupies a spot that has housed several gyms infamous for their past reputation as places where gay men exercised their sexual desires as much as their muscles.

Pullup machine broken for more than one month

Today’s 24 Hour has tempered the sexual steam a bit by replacing the single-sex jacuzzi, sauna and steam room with co-ed facilities. (However, subscribers to the OnlyFans.com sites of some local porn performers who have chosen WeHo’s 24 Hour Fitness as a stage can still see some gay sexual steam.)

I’m writing this op-ed because I belong to 24 Hour Fitness and it is on the agenda of the city Disability Advisory Board’s Wednesday meeting, where the board intends to honor it with a Disability Service Award in the Business category. In my humble opinion, that would be a mistake.

Why would WEHOville oppose such an award to 24 Hour Fitness? Well, this is an opinion piece that reflects the opinion of Hank Scott, not that of me and the other folks who work with me to publish WEHOville. I have struggled with whether to use WEHOville to call out the issues I have with 24 Hour Fitness as an individual, but have decided to share them because I now understand that those are the concerns of many of my fellow gym members who grumble and complain to me and among one another but not to the gym’s management.

Sinks without water

To put it bluntly, 24 Hour Fitness is a mess — the most poorly managed of the dozen or more gyms I have belonged to over the years. This is a gym where one sometimes can’t find soap in the showers or the bathroom sinks, sometimes can’t get towels, and occasionally finds there is no toilet paper in any of the stalls. This is a gym where exercise equipment (and water fountains) can remain broken for many weeks. This is where an ambulance was called recently to rescue a woman who was injured by a piece of broken gym equipment.  (My two injuries from broken equipment, by the way, were painful but didn’t require medical care).

Racist slurs and damaged sinks at 24 Hour Fitness West Hollywood

It is a gym where I was stunned a little more than a year ago to find the words “Send the n**gers back to Compton” scrawled on two sink counters. Two other African-American gym members were upset by what they saw, but said they weren’t surprised. One of them told me it had taken most of a day to get a similar slur removed. I took pictures.

It is a gym where the trash and dirty towels dropped on the floor make one think of downtown L.A.’s Skid Row. It is a gym where those who love cockroaches can find them on the lowest floor (I have pictures).

This is a gym whose president hasn’t responded to my letter calling out the issues. The newest manager has threatened to revoke my membership for complaining loudly about these problems, although I’m now encouraged that she is working somewhat to address them, albeit without the corporate support she needs. She still hasn’t followed my suggestion to have

Cockroach in locker room

a staffer walk through the locker rooms hourly to check the toilets and showers and stroll the exercise rooms to spot possible problems there.

And, to answer the obvious question, this is a gym where I remain a member because it’s only a five-minute walk from my home and my membership fee is covered by my health insurance policy (i.e. it’s free). And also because I don’t like to give up where change is clearly needed and won’t happen without pressure.

West Hollywood deserves better than this. Those who are members of this gym need to raise their voices – daily – about the poor management. And the city’s Disabilities Advisory Board needs to award a business that truly supports people with disabilities and isn’t so poorly managed that it actually might encourage them.


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blueeyedboy
Guest
blueeyedboy

Well, son-of-a-gun!!! When was someone going to tell me about this? I’ve been asking! As it happened, I was out of town when this was published.

https://www.wehoville.com/2018/09/19/wing-womens-co-working-space-bars-men-will-open-weho/

For the record, I think single sex businesses are just fine! A male only gym would have me as its first member.

Now, how about women stop going to gay bars and then complaining when they see gay guys doing what gay guys do.

blueeyedboy
Guest
blueeyedboy

This is off the subject, so forgive me, but does anyone remember the nude sun deck back when it was Sports Connection (and maybe even when it was Bally’s)?

Yep! And it was packed with chaise lounges, all of which were always occupied.

How far we’ve come!

Complaint Department
Guest
Complaint Department

Geez. Don’t complain and stay….complain and be on your way! Publishing this as an opinion piece is going to accomplish what? The complaint department blog with no one involved able to take responsibility. Call the health department if you must and whatever agency monitors disability standards. Seems like it would take a lifetime going through the Disabilities Advisory Board. Was a member years ago when it was The Sports Connection and when it became too creepy for me I left. You can do that too, health and cleanliness is a priority.

Earl Eason
Guest
Earl Eason

Wow. I was at the DAB meeting last night. The guy who is chair of the chamber of commerce, and the woman who is the president spoke up in favor of an award to 24 Hour Fitness. I’m guessing all it takes is to buy a membership to get the chamber’s endorsement. They ought to take a look at Yelp and the dozens of comments about the filth, broken equipment and nastiness of the employees. And all the people who say they’ve ended their membership, and been cheated trying to do that. That place is an embarrassment to WeHo. But… Read more »

John on Hancock
Guest
John on Hancock

So who exactly in the 24 Hour Fitness corporate hierarchy do we need to reach to make a difference? Does anyone know? Perhaps flooding their corporate Facebook page with comments would get some results? They currently have 4.1 out of 5 stars in their reviews: https://www.facebook.com/pg/24hfwesthollywood/reviews/

Disabilities Rights Now
Guest
Disabilities Rights Now

It’s horrifying that you are using the term disabled in a negative way within the title of this article. You might think you are being funny but it’s insulting to people living with disabilities. There must be good reasons that the Disability Board is honoring this business. I’m curious to know if you reached out to this group of people with disabilities? My guess is that you didn’t. My guess is that they must be invisible to you…why else would you want to ruin their award show? Why stir up this kind of trouble for a group of people who… Read more »

chris
Guest
chris

oh my, hank, i see you a couple of times a week and i am obviously disabled and you never asked my opinion. you are not disabled and slurs on a counter, while horrific, have nothing to do with disabled access. i love it there. what disabled access in a gym means is elevators, space between machines to park your walker or wheelchair, good lighting, ramps, handicap bathrooms, and many different things depending on your disability. i went to equinox for years where there is NOT room for mobility devices between devices and they are all loud as all heck.… Read more »

Eric Jon Schmidt
Guest
Eric Jon Schmidt

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE more people come to the meeting. This Award should not be given out unless they can show the reasons why. We the people have the power to speak out and make changes. NEVER BE AFRAID TO SPEAK TRUTH TO POWER!

What is the worst that can happen by speaking up? Admiration from your fellow Residents? If we don’t speak up, who will?

Disability Rights Now
Guest
Disability Rights Now

You are really going to scream at people in wheelchairs and walkers in your quest of “speaking truth to power”? It seems like you want to humiliate them in front of a large audience. What satisfaction will that give you? Why disturb the peace and rob the Disability Board of their dignity? It’s a terrible thing to do to people with disabilities when they are trying to have a good time and do something good for the community.

Eric Jon Schmidt
Guest
Eric Jon Schmidt

If the Board is not fulfilling their purpose, they need to be called out for it. I would never disrupt an event or discount the needs of the disabled. I will keep my comments very sensitive. I would like to talk to the board members independent of the event and ask them what specifically 24 hour fitness did to deserve the Award. This Award is very important and should not be handed out willy-nilly. If all they did is have an elevator, that’s not worthy of an Award, that’s in accordance with the law and the ADA.

Eric Jon Schmidt
Guest
Eric Jon Schmidt

It was a very small audience. Apparently people didn’t care enough to attend. I was the second speaker and sat through the entire meeting. I shook the hand of ever committe member after the meeting and thanked them. I looked in the audience and there were only nine people for the second half of the meeting. Councilmembers bailed the second they could. My comments were so sensitive, I couldn’t read them because I teared up. Ms. Smith offered to read them for me.

Frank
Guest
Frank

The locker room is filthy, so much so that I’m reluctant even to use the urinal. I can’t imagine why the gym deserves an award! It has but one redeeming quality, and that’s its location.

blueeyedboy
Guest
blueeyedboy

There are so many observations I could make I hardly know where to begin, but like you, Hank, I live only two blocks away from 24, and that convenience is too much to give up on. I’m glad you have introduced this topic. The current and previous two managers have been the worst! The only thing that seems to get the current one “up and at ’em” is when she hears of possible sex activity in the men’s locker room or sauna. She’s right on top of that, gathering all the male staff to line up outside the room waiting… Read more »

blueeyedboy
Guest
blueeyedboy

I did complain about two dogs that are being passed off by their owners as service dogs. A woman keeps her dog on a long leash, and often lets the dog roam around without her holding onto the leash. It would be very easy for someone to trip over that dog. The dog doesn’t wear a vest identifying it as a service dog. There is an older guy who brings his pit-bull dog onto the work-out floor and in the locker room. He says it is a service dog, but California doesn’t register pit bulls as service dogs, so he’s… Read more »

blueeyedboy
Guest
blueeyedboy

And then there was the time four of the eight showers were out of order (which lasted for weeks!). It was about 8:00 AM and I was standing in line waiting my turn, during which time I was chatting it up with the guy behind me. We both were in a big hurry. When it came my turn to take the next available shower, my new chat buddy asked if he could share it with me. I said, “Sure, good idea.” Most of my life of gym attendance gang showers were the norm. There was one room with several shower… Read more »

24 hr fitness member
Guest
24 hr fitness member

I have been a member of 24 hr fitness since 1992, when it was Sports Connection. The place did not improve much under Bally’s management, and the way they treated members was really poor. Few years ago, after the place was in a very obvious state of decline, 24 hr fitness finally renovated the building without really changing much of the lifting equipment. Lack of maintenance and poor hygiene are the most common problems. I sometimes wonder where is the management and whether or not they even walk the facility to not notice that the place (particularly the men’s locker… Read more »

Eric Jon Schmidt
Guest
Eric Jon Schmidt

I will be at that meeting. if there is public comment, I will ask them how they determined that 24 hour Fitness should receive the award. I will ask them to be specific about what the gym has done for the disabled and if any free memberships were given in exchange for the Award.

cody warlock
Guest

I think its simply because they happen to have elevators that go upstairs. They certainly don’t deserve an award for that! And I have never seen any of the employees assist a disabled person.

TheRealZam
Guest

Giving our local 24hr Fitness an award for accessibility is absolutely absurd. Their treatment of the disabled & general accessibility is laughably poor. A corporate gym like this one has no excuse for the situation. The elevator & lift required to reach the actual gym floor are constantly broken down. Not only is the elevator the size of a coffin, but it is constantly breaking down and when it is not working, repairs usually take months. It was down for more than six months at least two times within the last decade. While repairs are much faster, the lift is… Read more »