Gold’s Gym spokesman: Rowling doesn’t see any profits and San Francisco franchisees are lying

Posted on 26 Oct 2010 at 12:55pm

This morning we put a call in to Gold’s Gym’s gayest location in Dallas, at 2425 McKinney Ave. in Uptown, to find out whether management there had any thoughts on the controversy over Robert Rowling’s $2 million in contributions to American Crossroads, the Karl Rove co-founded group that is working to help elect several anti-gay candidates across the country this election cycle.

Rowling, a Highland Park billionaire, is the CEO for TRT Holdings, which is the ownership group for both Gold’s Gym and Omni Hotels. And his contributions have led to a petition calling for Gold’s Gym to stop supporting anti-gay candidates.

We ended up talking with Brad Bean, who happens to be the district manager for Gold’s Gym’s four corporate-owned locations in Dallas. The company’s other six locations in Dallas are franchises, Bean said.

“From a corporate perspective, diversity is a core part of our organization, and we don’t discriminate,” Bean said. “We have zero tolerance. We’re not a political organization, and we don’t use our revenue source to fund political organizations.”

Bean’s statement is essentially a shortened version of the one released by Gold’s Gym International on Monday, which we’ve posted below. A copy of the statement was sent over this morning by Dave Reiseman, vice president of communications for Gold’s Gym International, which happens to be headquartered at 125 E. John Carpenter Freeway in Irving.

We also spoke with Reiseman briefly this morning, and he stressed that Rowling is not the CEO for Gold’s Gym; he is the CEO for TRT Holdings, which is the ownership group.

“Not a nickel of Gold’s Gym’s money, from our members or our franchisees or our employees, went to American Crossroads or any other political organization,” Reiseman told Instant Tea. “Gold’s Gym is an apolitical organization, and we do not donate to political causes or candidates of any kind.”

But doesn’t the company generate a profit for Rowling, who could then have given that money to American Crossroads?

“I think one day if the company is ever sold, he may make a profit there, but right now they just re-invest all the profits back into the business,” Reiseman said. “Needless to say, the LGBT community is hugely important to us. We’re proud to have a strong membership base. A lot of our employees are part of the LGBT community, and so are a lot of our employees here at the corporate office and our franchisees.”

And speaking of franchisees, Reiseman says two of them in San Francisco were flat out lying when they announced Monday that they’re leaving the brand over Rowling’s American Crossroads contributions. Rather, discussions about termination of their franchise agreements for unrelated reasons began months ago, Reiseman said. This statement is below as well.

STATEMENT ON AMERICAN CROSSROADS ISSUE

“For more than 45 years, Gold’s Gym has been welcoming and accepting of members from all walks of life. Diversity is a core part of the Gold’s Gym tradition and we have a zero tolerance policy for discrimination of any kind. We are proud to have a large and dedicated base of LGBT members in our gyms…and value our strong ties with the LGBT community. In addition, we are proud of our employees and franchisees around the world who are part of the LGBT community and who go to work every day to help people achieve their fitness goals.

“Gold’s Gym did not make a donation to American Crossroads (or any other political organization) and in no way supports anti-gay causes. Quite the contrary, the Gold’s Gym family has been strong supporters of the LGBT community over the years. This includes supporting PRIDE events, sponsoring LGBT media outlets and donating to various LGBT charities in the communities we serve.

“Gold’s Gym is a non-political organization and our member’s dues are not used to fund political candidates. Bob Rowling, the CEO of our ownership group, TRT Holdings, made a private donation completely independent from (and not on behalf of) Gold’s Gym.

“It is important to note that most Gold’s Gyms around the country are independently owned and operated by franchisees. They are hard working small business owners who embrace and accept members from all walks of life.

“We hope that our friends and long time members of the LBGT community understand that our sole purpose as an organization is to help people reach their fitness goals. Tens of thousands of dedicated employees go to work every day across the country for this very reason. They will continue to do so for the LGBT community and all of the other diverse communities we serve.”

Statement on Gold’s Gym San Francisco Departure

“We were disappointed to read Sebastyen and Zsolt Jackovics’ comments indicating that their decision to leave the Gold’s Gym family is a direct result of Robert Rowling’s donation to American Crossroads. This is simply not true. Discussions surrounding the termination of the Jackovics’ franchise agreement with Gold’s Gym began many months ago due to completely unrelated matters. In fact, the Jackovics informed us of their intent to sell two of their Gold’s Gyms in March of this year and completed the sale in June as part of their planned exit strategy. While there is no doubt that Gold’s Gym San Francisco has been a pillar of the LGBT community, to say that they left the Gold’s Gym brand because of the American Crossroads donation would be disingenuous.”

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