Making Accessibility Happen
Here’s what I e-mailed the corporate headquarters of LA Fitness (called Fitness International,) and why I say the “LA” in LA Fitness stands for “Lacks Accessibility”.
Copy sent to: Tualatin building officials, mayor and chamber of commerce, and The Oregonian.
If you or anyone you know is experiencing similar accessibility issues at any LA Fitness, please join me in voicing your concern by e-mailing: firstname.lastname@example.org
To Whom It May Concern at Fitness International,
- Automatic Front Door Openers: I have to be able to get in the front doors on my own. Without an ADA door opener, I cannot push a walker and open the entrance doors. Nor can my husband push me in my wheelchair and open the door without assistance from another club member or someone from the front desk leaving their post. To not have ADA door openers in these public facilities is infuriating and discriminatory for those of us with disabilities. Staff members, including manager Jennifer B., repeatedly tell us that “corporate says the doors meet ‘building code’ and that installing the door assist equipment is too expensive“. My ongoing request for ADA door openers usually ends with the same manager supportively suggesting that nothing can be done. I completely disagree. ADA front door openers only need to be budgeted for and made a higher priority when designing these million dollar facilities. In the meantime, LA Fitness persists in discriminating against clientele with disabilities by not providing basic accessibility through the front doors unaided.
- Accessible Passage Through Locker Room: The passage from the locker rooms to the shower\bathroom area has the same door issue. I cannot pass through to the pool without assistance, plus there’s a code to enter. I understand that certain amount of safety precaution is necessary to prevent small children from wandering into the pool area unawares. At the same time I cannot get in – or out – without an automatic door opener while pushing a walker. Often that particular door is left open with a trashcan (defeating the purpose of preventing children from wandering!) but then my walker cannot fit through without someone moving the large metal receptacle out-of-the-way.
- Enforce Staff Policy Regarding Handicap Room: The one handicap room is located outside of the main locker rooms where many non-disabled staff members and club members use it instead of their own gender-specific bathroom. Despite the fact that management has told staff members not to use this handicap room, we have often waited outside the door shivering in our wet swimming suits until they vacate.
- Install Shower Curtain: The handicap room gets slippery quickly because there is no curtain divider in the shower from the toilet and sink. For those of us with opposite sex caregivers, this room is the only place to change and it is often a wet mess. I am requesting a shower curtain be installed in the handicap room to mitigate this issue. And of course, an automatic door opener and safety call button sure would be appreciated here, too.
- Install Grab Bars: The shower area adjacent to the pool requires grab bars for safety in the slippery area. I currently have to hang onto the pivoting shower dial which is clearly unsuited.
Until then, from the perspective of someone living with a disability, LA Fitness does not live up to what it states online in terms of ADA compliance. It is also ironically disrespectful to hang posters supporting ending ALS, when someone with ALS cannot enjoy equal access to LA Fitness facilities.
It is my hope that Fitness International will become a leader in accessibility rather than persisting in doing the required bare minimum for its disabled members.