As promised, Gold's Gym this week will become Fitness SF as its contract with the Gold's brand has just run out. Some of you may recall that in 2010, Gold's Gym members (the vast majority of whom, in SF at least, are homosexual) were shocked to learn that the CEO of the gym's parent company had made donations to the conservative group American Crossroads, which was founded by Karl Rove. At the time, the local franchisee, which runs the two San Francisco Gold's Gyms as well as the branches in Oakland and San Rafael, pledged to cut ties with the brand as soon as its current contract expired, which would be September 15, 2012. And that time has come.
Following the outcry from Gold's largely gay clientele, the gym's director of operations Don Dickerson said that "For every dollar we pay Gold's Gym in franchise fees we will donate an equal or greater amount to LGBT charities," and further pledged to form a new brand, now named Fitness SF, which would take effect as soon as the Gold's contract ran out.
Robert Rowling, the billionaire CEO of TRT Holdings which owns the Gold's brand as well as Omni Hotels, says that he donated to Rove's organization solely out of his belief in "fiscal sanity" and not for any anti-gay reasons. Also, he made the $2 million donation in his own name, not under the aegis of his company. Gold's members, knowing how Rove has cynically used homophobic policies and anti-gay-marriage rhetoric to win elections for Republicans over the years, were unmoved, and a signature denouncing the company gained over 10,000 signatures.
Dickerson just told CBS that he's proud to have been able to stand by the two-year-old decision, scrubbing the local Gold's locations of their branding as of this week. "Very rarely in a situation like this does a business stand up and actually take a position on the matter ... Our company has worked for over twenty years to support our LGBT staff, members and community in everyway possible and we will continue to."