Woman barred from Bradenton gym for exposing her midriff, she claims

jdeleon@bradenton.comMarch 26, 2014 

BRADENTON -- Linda Hug said she was just warming up with some cardio at her gym before an employee ordered her removed from the facility because of her bare midriff.

Hug often gets overheated, she says, as she runs on the treadmill or other cardio machines and folds up her sports top, revealing her midriff to cool off.

The employee told her she was in violation her contract, she said.

Youfit Health Clubs officials said Hug violated their dress code, which requires all members to wear a shirt, and a sports bra or top is insufficient.

The situation escalated Saturday morning at the Youfit fitness center, 5574 Cortez Road W., and police were called to remove Hug from the building because of repeat dress code violations.

"This has been going on for six months with the same individual," said Hug, a paid member. "Initially she said it was because of intimidation."

Hug said the employee kept telling her Saturday she was violating the dress code and needed to fold her top back down.

Hug, 49, refused.

"I have never heard of anything so ludicrous," Hug said. "To me, it almost seems to be like it's reverse discrimination."

That's when she said the employee told her if she didn't put down her top she would have to leave.

Hug said she wasn't leaving and the employee would have to call the police to remove her, she said.

Youfit officials defended their employee.

"Youfit Health Clubs is a family owned and operated business proudly offering a fun and safe environment for our club members," regional manager Christy

Berks-Stross said in an email. "Youfit Health Club policy and guidelines require that all members wear appropriate clothing while utilizing a Youfit facility. After being asked to follow Youfit's policies regarding appropriate workout attire, the member refused and exposed her breasts to Youfit's employees and other club members."

Hug said the partial exposure was unintentional. Her finger caught in the built-in bra as she folded up her shirt, accidently exposing part of her breast. She said she immediately covered herself.

"She had already called the police, I was told," Hug said. "So that's a moot point."

Youfit officials, however, insist the exposure prompted police to be called.

"The member's inappropriate behavior required Youfit management to contact law enforcement and have her removed from the facility," Berks-Stross said. "Contrary to Ms. Hug's comments, this incident had nothing to do with her physical appearance, but resulted from her inappropriate actions in a Youfit facility."

Youfit has surveillance video of the incident, but would not release a copy of it at this time under the advisement of an attorney.

Berks-Stross said witness statements will support their case. Those statements were not readily available.

She was also given a copy of her contract with the dress code highlighted.

"I have been informed of the basic dress code. Shirts are required," the highlighted dress code states. "No open toe shoes/sandals/flip flops, dress shoes or work boots. No jeans, overalls or work pants. No gym pants are permitted on the workout floor. You are entitled to a copy of the contract at the time you sign. Keep it to protect your rights."

Hug is now searching for a new gym and trying to cancel her Youfit membership -- without paying a $25 cancellation fee. She said she paid this month's dues in full -- before she was banned.

Jessica De Leon, Herald law enforcement reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter @JDeLeon1012.

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