Too much squatting? Man fights cancellation of 24-hour gym membership after overnight stay

Arthur Eagle believes he was unfairly evicted from FlexFitness Hastings for staying too long, but the gym says he broke several rules. Photo / Paul Taylor

How much time is too much to spend in a 24-hour gym? Can you squat too much?

This is the question of the mind Hawkes Bay Arthur Eagle after what he claims was his unfair eviction from FlexFitness a Hastings after spending the whole night there.

Eagle, whose membership has now been canceled following the March 4 incident, claims a clause that says all memberships include unrestricted access was not followed and that it was deliberately discriminated against.

But the gym manager has a different story. He claims Eagle broke several gym rules and was loitering, leaving him with no choice but to terminate his membership.

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It started simply enough.

Hawkes Bay man Arthur Eagle signed up for a month’s membership at FlexFitness Hastings to boost his fitness before embarking on a series of jaunts around Aotearoa.

But he said it soon became clear he was not welcome after his exercise patterns and actions, often late at night and in at least two cases, all night, were scrutinized by staff.

He said he was told his presence made other members uncomfortable, but he claimed he was minding his own business and not breaking any rules or codes.

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Would you rather have TVs, lights and speakers on for no one all night?

He claimed that the start in the gym of what would become a confrontation was a case of character discrimination and that the other members were practically not reprimanded all night.

Gym director Meryn Hemmingsen said staff members had spoken to Eagle several times about what he described as highly unusual behavior at their gym, asking him to stop breaking the rules.

Unfortunately, these talks were not constructive and he did not agree to comply. Therefore, due to breach of these rules, we had no choice but to terminate your membership.

It looks like I may have indicated to you that other people also spent the night at our gym in Hastings. That’s simply not true, Hemmingsen said Hawkes Bay today.

The two clauses Hemmingsen said Eagle broke were around health and safety and not using the membership for its intended purpose.

Exercise throughout the night

Hemmingsen claimed Eagle spent numerous all-nighters at the gym early in the day, for example arriving shortly after midnight and leaving around 7am.

He said that the last night he used the gym, the Eagle had been there all night, left for a while in the morning, then came back again an hour later.

When he was working out at the gym, he wasn’t far off the whole length of his stay, and some mornings when he did spend time at the gym, he didn’t work out for many hours at a time.

Our gyms are not a place to walk around; they are a place to exercise.

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But Eagle said he was not loitering or breaching any terms or conditions and was properly using his membership to its fullest potential.

Exercising is exactly what the gym used to do, but they, of all people, should know that muscles need rest and recovery time, especially if you’re a beginner.

I was trying to make the most of my short one month period to strengthen and get in shape for my New Zealand tour plans.

He said Hemmingsens claim that he had spent the night at the gym on numerous occasions was inaccurate.

It was only twice as far as I can remember, the last one was out of my control.

More importantly, the only reason I came back within an hour was because I thought I had left my wallet.

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But, regardless, they wouldn’t let me go and look for it for a few minutes while they treated me like some kind of criminal.

Arthur Eagle said he was just trying to maximize his membership, but the gym said his behavior was "unusual".  Photo / Paul Taylor
Arthur Eagle said he was just trying to maximize his membership, but the gym said his behavior was “unusual”. Photo / Paul Taylor

Safety and security

Hemmingsen also said Eagle followed people into the gym without using a security tag.

Our manager discovered on several occasions that he was not using the security key tag to enter the gym, but was following other people who were evaluating him.

It is essential, as a gym, that we have visibility of everyone in our facilities at all times. Violation of this rule by Mr. Eagles may put their own safety and that of other members at risk.

Eagle denied that was the case, saying he asked a few people politely, and on only two occasions, to use his card to enter the gym.

However, I have a hard time seeing why I even have to defend this, especially since it wouldn’t have happened at all if they had provided a simple card that you keep in your wallet instead of having to dig through your purse.

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By the way, this is what I was doing when a member of the men’s gym came over, and he was more than happy to oblige, especially since I was able to prove to him that I was a member by describing a couple of items that I left in a hole

Different views

Eagle said he thought the gym was doing customers a disservice if others had been treated the way he had been.

He said the longer someone was at the facility, the more inclined they were to shop at FlexFitness’s vending machines, and that happy customers meant more subscriptions and referrals.

People have so little common sense these days that I find myself stating the obvious far too often.

If I pay more for a night key, I don’t want to hear any complaints. Especially when I wasn’t breaking any terms or conditions.

Can members stay 24 hours a day at a 24 hour gym?

Consumer NZ communications and campaigns adviser Abby Damen said people signing up to a 24-hour gym should be able to access it 24 hours a day.

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However, they will also have to abide by the terms and rules of their gyms, he said.

If they don’t, the gym will likely have the ability to terminate your membership. We encourage people to make sure they read and understand the T&Cs of any contract they enter into.

Mitchell Hageman joined Hawkes Bay Today in January 2023. From his base in Napier, he writes regularly on social issues, arts and culture and the community.

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