In light of information that the owner of the Gold’s Gym chain recently kicked a large donation to a conservative group that funds strongly anti-gay politicians, the Gold’s Gym Bay Area franchise will be cutting ties with its parent organization and leaving the brand behind, they say.
Gold’s Gyms International is owned by TRT Holdings, a Dallas based company of billionaire, Robert Rowling. However, the group of Gold’s Gym Bay Area locations are owned and operated by brothers Sebastyen and Zsolt Jackovics, with other family members.
According to a petition launched by a San Francisco based social advocacy organization, Change.org, Rowling, using his corporate and personal accounts, gave $2 million to Karl Rove’s new organization, American Crossroads.
American Crossroads donates to candidates such as Sharron Angle, the Tea Party candidate running for Senate in Nevada who opposes civil rights protection for gay people. The petition, launched a week ago, has already garnered over 4,800 signatures.
Here in the Bay, gym members came to the Gold’s Gym staff with their concerns on the issue, leading the managers to decide that cutting ties with Gold’s by giving up the franchise association is the best course of action. Don Dickerson announced the news through an e-mail to gym members on Monday.
Dickerson also posted the announcement on Facebook, which states that four Bay Area locations, in SF, Oakland, and Marin, with a total membership of approximately 22,000 – would no longer be associated with the Gold’s Gym name when its contract comes up for renewal in September 2012, or sooner if they can help it. They also plan to match the franchise fees they have to pay to Gold’s with donations to LGBT charities.
Gold’s Gym International released a statement saying “Bob Rowling, the CEO of our ownership group, TRT Holdings, made a private donation completely independent from (and not on behalf of) Gold’s Gym.”
On Tuesday, Rowley told Fox News that his contribution to American Crossroads has nothing to do with social issues, and more about “fiscal sanity.”
He also noted that the Bay Area franchises had already been discussing ending the franchise agreement prior to the donation. Dickerson clarified that they had been assessing their options, which included possibly staying with Gold’s, until now.
The decision to leave Gold’s brand may be financially bad for them, Dickerson claims, as being a part of the Gold’s network allows members to work out at any Gold’s around the country.
Local members of Gold’s Gym don’t seem to mind, as they have sent at least 500 emails in support of the plan.
A member at the SOMA location remarked to CBS “It’s a pretty big chance that they’re taking, that’s really sticking to your guns, and I really appreciate that as a gay guy here in the city”.