When Monique Golueke was exercising at an Oceanside, California, LA Fitness last week, she was told her sons were having trouble settling down in the child care area. After collecting her 2 year old and her 9 month old baby from the “Kids Klub,” she took her two young boys to the women’s locker room, realizing she needed to breastfeed her baby. What followed has many of us mamas in disbelief. Breezy Mama shares her story.
After breastfeeding your baby in an LA Fitness, an employee told you that you weren’t allowed to feed your child in the women’s locker room and escorted you out. What happened next?
I was holding back tears as we walked through the lobby and I walked out the door. I took the boys outside where we waited for my friend to finish her step class. At that point I was so upset, infuriated and humiliated that I decided to take the boys outside. After my friend met us in front of the building, teary eyed and still in shock, we spoke about what happened. Then I went back in and asked the employee for her business card, she sat at a desk near the manager so I assumed she’d have some sort of contact info. Instead, she wrote down her name and phone number on a piece of paper. Come to find out that piece of paper has all of her employment information on it including the last 4 digits of her social, her address, her pay wage, amongst other personal information that I didn’t need. This just goes to show how under-trained the staff is at LA Fitness.
I was still trying to process what had happened when the employee and I had reached the lobby. Being approached in such a vulnerable position and treated with such insincerity, I felt I was going to come unglued. I was either going to burst into tears and have a complete meltdown or I was going to let my fury run wild and possibly flip the entire gym upside down. At that time, I realized it was best if I just walk out. I didn’t talk with the manager about my frustrations, I had already dealt with enough. It wasn’t until after I had reported the incident to corporate that I spoke with him about the incident. He came at me with a huge, pompous attitude and told me that if I ever wanted to return to LA Fitness, I was welcome to nurse my baby in the kid’s club restroom. That was the exact thing the female employee who escorted me out of the locker room told me. After the manager said that, I told him that he clearly didn’t understand the legality of the situation. The conversation was over. So, I called corporate back and told them what he said, they were apologetic and explained that if they needed to contact me they would.
It was great to hear other moms held a “nurse-in” in front of LA Fitness on Friday after hearing your story! How did that come about?
I had nothing to do with organizing the Nurse-in. Word spread like wildfire on FB [Facebook] and a group of Moms took it upon themselves to get together. I didn’t even know about it until about 10:30pm the night before.
It just goes to show how supportive the community can really be. I was so touched that neighbors, friends and complete strangers came out to show support and stand up for something they truly believe in.
I saw your story and the coverage of the “nurse-in” on 10 News San Diego. How did that come about?
Just after the incident occurred, I contacted my local LLL [La Leche League] representative. From there I spoke with two other lactation consultants and breastfeeding activists who suggested I share my story.
How has all the moms rallying around you made you feel?
Made me realize that I am not alone and that it is important to stick up for yourself. Complete strangers are willing to organize themselves to promote fairness and social change.
Has LA Fitness gotten in touch with you?
I received a phone call from LA Fitness the day after–I expected an apology. Sadly, it was the trainer who was assigned to me (being that I was new member), he was hoping to set up an appointment for us to work out. He left a voicemail, I never actually spoke with him.
I had no idea children weren’t allowed in the locker room. I never would have taken them in there, had I known. Considering they were in a day care like environment, I took them out of the Kid’s Club and into the locker room to wash their hands. My 9 month old was still fussy and seemed hungry so I nursed him, meanwhile my 2 year old watched Trash Truck videos on my phone. (Not the best thing for kids to do but he was seated next to me and occupied).
Anyway, I’m happy that I decided to seek advice from LLL and go public with the incident. I hope for change in the future, relative to large corporations like LA Fitness and in society in general. I feel strongly that if a place provides child care they should be accommodating to nursing mothers. It’s simple.
I feel like this issue amongst others leads to further the acknowledgement of other important concerns in society, like the fact that there aren’t any changing tables in any men’s restrooms. Yes, my husband gets out of changing a lot of diapers but I am more addressing the issue in regards to single fathers and same sex fathers. Where are they supposed to help their babies?
On another note however, as my friend and I discussed, LA Fitness needs to realize these points. This is quoted from her on FB:
“1) There needs to be signs that say ‘no children beyond this point.’
2) There needs to be signs in the locker room saying ‘no children in locker room.’
3) They need to recognize that their employees and management handled the situation indelicately and in the future offer a space to breastfeed in the lobby or cafe seating… NOT THE RESTROOM.
Even as Jill Grueling stated (which is a lie) they offered you space in the kids club. Well, make that lie a truth and put a chair or two in a sectioned off corner of the kids club.
Their continued adamant statement of no kids in the locker room is just missing the main point!”