Wisconsin Gym Faces Backlash for ‘I Can’t Breathe’ Workout Challenge

Getty Images/Al Bello

A Wisconsin gym owner apologized on Wednesday after displaying a workout routine titled: “I Can’t Breathe.”

Gym co-owner Jen Dunnington of Anytime Fitness in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, apologized for the board which featured a headline reading “I Can’t Breathe,” followed by a series of intense exercises, and ending with a line reading, “and don’t you dare lay down.”

The board also included a black silhouette drawing of a person kneeling down, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

The workout routine list caught the eye of many social media users and brought universal condemnation upon the gym.

The owners of the Anytime Fitness brand name quickly took to Twitter to disavow the franchise owner’s sign.

“As leaders of Self Esteem Brands and the Anytime Fitness Brand, we were shocked and devastated to see that one of our franchise locations chose to offer an ‘I Can’t Breathe’ workout,” a statement read.

The slogan “I Can’t Breathe,” of course, has become a symbol for the Black Lives Matter movement when the phrase was reportedly uttered by Eric Garner, who died after an altercation with police in New York City in 2014. The phrase was also uttered on video by George Floyd as an officer placed his knee on his neck during an arrest in Minneapolis only two weeks ago. Floyd died after being restrained by the officer.

For her part, the gym owner apologized for the sign and explained that it was a misfired attempt to motivate people to better fitness.

“I was not aware of the signage that it was posted in that way,” she said according to TMZ Sports. “I didn’t read it in that way, but I do definitely apologize that those words were on there.”

Dunnington added that the “I Can’t Breathe” line was meant to motivate her customers and as a tribute to the current protests, not a slight against them.

The gym operator also lamented the “don’t you dare lay down” line saying, “I apologize that it said that. The line on there should not have been on there.”

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Facebook at: facebook.com/Warner.Todd.Huston.


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.