Planet Fitness hit with 17 bomb threats amid trans inclusion backlash

Fitness in the Columbia Mall on July 24, 2017 in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania. - Mall space is being repurposed as more department store chains close stores that have traditionally served as "anchors" at malls. Planet Fitness now occupies the space that was previously a Sears. The glass doors were the bay doors for Sears Automotive. Abandoned by the big brands, deserted by the young, the American mall, once temples of the shopping, have become ghost towns, victims of the explosion of online shopping. (Photo by Don EMMERT / AFP) / TO GO WITH AFP STORY by John BIERS, "Deserted, US shopping centers look for a future" (Photo by DON EMMERT/AFP via Getty Images)

Over a dozen Planet Fitness locations have been hit with bomb threats after the fitness chain reaffirmed its commitment to trans inclusion last month.

The gym franchise, which is primarily based in North America, has been the victim of at least 17 bomb hoaxes after it became the subject of right-wing backlash last month.

Planet Fitness found itself in the headlines in early March after the notorious anti-LGBTQ+ social media account, Libs of TikTok, shared a video of a customer complaining that a trans woman was using the women’s bathroom.

The customer then shared an email exchange with Planet Fitness regarding the complaint, which took place at a Wisconsin location, in which the company reaffirmed its commitment to inclusion.

The policy, which was shared with the customer, reads: “All members, including transgender members, may use Planet Fitness locker room facilities and programs based on their self-reported gender identity.

“These facilities include bathrooms, showers, and all other facilities separated by sex,” the policy continues. “Wherever possible, Planet Fitness clubs should maintain private changing areas in each locker room for the comfort of all members.”

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A person running on a treadmill in a Planet Fitness location. A mural on a wall says "no critics."
The controversy has done little to stifle Planet Fitness’ value. (Getty)

Right-wing pundits called for a boycott against the chain after the Libs of TikTok post went viral, causing the company’s stock value to dip.

Various locations across North America have since received hoax bomb threats: At least four locations in Rhode Island, four in Mississippi, six in Michigan and several in Connecticut have been targeted.

The most recent set of threats occurred in Alabama after a string of chains were evacuated on Saturday (6 April) according to the FBI.

Fairhope Police shared in a statement that a threat was emailed to a news outlet targeting multiple locations, including two locations in Daphne and Mobile, Alabama.

Planet Fitness is still financially stable despite backlash, experts say

In a statement, Planet Fitness reiterated its commitment to an inclusive policy, telling staff to “address discomfort” and “foster a climate of understanding.”

It also clarified that the membership of the customer who shared the video was terminated for “taking photos of individuals in the locker room.”

Financial experts have estimated that the fallout from the controversy has not been enough to significantly affect the company as it continues to grow in value.

Stifel analyst, Chris O’Cull, told Athletech News that the dip was unlikely to disrupt Planet Fitness’ growing value, saying that “social media comments have a short shelf life.”

“Having positive earned media highlighting the brand’s ‘judgement free’ positioning can prevent search results with a shorter shelf life from continuing to impact the brand’s reputation.”