National News

Gym owner apologizes after controversial Instagram video

Posted January 16, 2018 10:46 a.m. EST

— Hundreds of women have posted on Facebook, expressing outrage after Tom Tomlo, the owner of Blue Ridge Cross Fit, posted a video last Friday on the gym's Instagram account.

Tomlo says the video was an Instagram Story and showed a morning workout session at the gym, which included women in black workout stretch pants bent over, doing various body strengthening exercises.

The gym owner acknowledges he added emojis and phrases next to the women's posteriors, including the phrase "dayumm" above a woman's rear-end, "blueridgegirls" over another female member's posterior, and "humpday" with an emoji over another woman bent over with her rear-end in the air. A member who saw the Instagram Story posted several screen grabs of the video on Facebook.

Tomlo has apologized and said in an interview he didn't mean to offend anyone or any woman. He said the comments and video were meant to be lighthearted and fun. He also says the women in the video knew he was recording them during the workout and knew the video had been posted.

A member who saw the video took screen captures of the video.

Upon learning someone posted the screen captures, Tomlo wrote a profanity-laced defense on Facebook, saying the poster had no right to post the stills he says are taken out of context.

"I can't control the way this is being portrayed, and I'm regretful for it," Tomlo said. "I feel horrible that people would feel that I would look at a woman that way and do something that would be purposefully demeaning of her."

"I think it's a disgrace," said Marie-Line Germain, a PHD and associate professor at Western Carolina University, who organized the women's March in Asheville. She feels Tomlo showed poor judgment.

"These bodies, whether video or pictures, are the property of the woman who were in that video. Not the property of that gym owner," Germain said. "We don't even know if the women knew."

On Facebook, hundreds of women have reacted with anger to the video.

"Your clients trust you to help them," Hayley Evans wrote. "Instead, you treat them like pieces of meat."

"The owner is a chauvanist pig," Taylor Hunter posted. "With no respect to women."

News 13 asked Tomlo to contact the women in the video so they could confirm they gave Tomlo permission to post their workout with the phrases and emojis, but neither Tomlo or any women from the video have contacted News 13 to confirm Tomlo's assertion that they were fine with what he did.