Trainer fired over 'I Can't Breathe' workout at Wauwatosa gym

WAUWATOSA -- An Anytime Fitness in Wauwatosa caught major heat over posting a workout titled, "I Can't Breathe," TMZ reported Wednesday, June 10.

Jen Dunnington, co-owner of the Anytime Fitness gym in Wauwatosa, told TMZ one of her trainers attempted to "honor" George Floyd by posting the 35-minute workout for members. The sign featured the words, "I Can't Breathe" and, "Don't you dare lay down" with a drawing of a kneeling person.

According to TMZ, Dunnington said the group of exercises was meant to "be a workout so hard that we felt what he felt." Dunnington told TMZ she regrets the sign's verbiage, saying, "I deeply apologize." Members told FOX6 she posted a tearful, five-minute video apology on Facebook that was later deleted.

In a statement from Anytime Fitness corporate on Friday, June 11, co-founders Chuck Runyon and Dave Mortenson announced that the trainer who promoted the workout has been terminated by the owner of the Wauwatosa location. That trainer had previously been placed on leave by the company on Wednesday.

Full statement from Anytime Fitness -- Runyon and Mortenson:

As the co-founders of the Anytime Fitness brand, we were extremely disappointed to learn about the “I Can’t Breathe” workout promoted by the AF franchise location in Wauwatosa, Wis.

The trainer who promoted the “I Can’t Breathe” workout has been terminated by the owner of the Wauwatosa location. That owner has taken full responsibility for the actions of his location, and he and his entire staff have volunteered to be the first ones to participate in the antiracism training that we announced last week and are providing for all franchise owners across our portfolio of brands.

Under the Anytime Fitness franchise model, owners make independent decisions about local promotional activities for their gyms. However, regardless of their original intent, the actions of the Wauwatosa location were offensive, insensitive and inconsistent with our brand values. We understand the deep hurt that this gym’s actions have caused for many of our members, and we truly apologize that this happened.

This experience has further galvanized our commitment to antiracism education within our franchise network. To our employees, franchise owners, members and communities – especially those who are black, Indigenous, and people of color – we deeply regret this week’s events, and we will continue to learn from these experiences. Our commitment to eliminating racism within our business is stronger than ever.