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RF invented the acronym OFWG (Old Fat White Guy) for a reason: a lot of Caucasian firearms fans would rather practice pushing their defensive handgun gun away from their body after a holster draw than push away from the dinner table. Speaking from personal experience, it’s all too easy to get into a rut of Fritos and Hoppe’s #9. But there comes a time in every OFWG’s life when he looks in the mirror and says WTF. When LifeTime Athletic rolled into my town—complete with basketball courts, pools, and water slides—I was ready to face the fats. Until I saw “LIFETIME FITNESS BANS GUNS ON THESE PREMISES” stenciled on the door . . .

People in New York have to jump through so many hurdles to carry a concealed weapon that we are a statistically insignificant sliver of the Empire State population pie. My peers aren’t even thinking about carrying a firearm. Guns aren’t even a blip on their radar.

So why have the ‘No Guns’ sign so prominently displayed? The fitness center’s front door doesn’t even have the club’s hours of operation listed. Or a Visa/Mastercard accepted come-on.

We’ll get to the rationale in a moment. First note: LifeTime Fitness’s policy means that concealed carriers are SOL. NY law states that your concealed carry heater must be on your person, under your direct control, or stashed in a suitably impregnable container. A locked glove box doesn’t cut it.

So, with LifeTime Fitness’s locker rooms a no-go area and car storage out-of-the-question, concealed carry types need not apply.

I hit up LifeTime’s corporate PR department for an explanation of their “gun-free zone” policy. According to Karen Jayne Leinberger’s email . . .

Per our Club Policy and as a private business, LifeTime bans all weapons, including guns, on our premise and inside our clubs. You can read more about our Club Policies here.  No incident has prompted this action by LifeTime, it’s a common practice for businesses to ban weapons in this fashion.  We post signage to notify members and guests of our policy.

Note that weapons are #2 on the immense rule list in the link. Realistically, the only crimes that really occur at gyms are locker room thefts.

Until they don’t. Anyone remember this incident [reported by] near Pittsburgh in the summer of 2009?

A shooting at an LA Fitness gym outside Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, killed at least four people and wounded several others, a local official told CNN.

The shooter, whose identity was not immediately released, was among the fatalities, said Gary Vituccio, manager of Collier township.

At least 10 shooting victims arrived at the three major hospitals in the area . . .

Witnesses told WTAE that a man [George Sodini, above] unrecognized by the gym’s staff shot people in a Latin dance class.

A witness identified as Nicole told WTAE that about 30 women were in the class when “a middle-aged white male walked into the class. He had a big gym bag.”

“He looked out of place in a class full of women,” according to the witness, who told WTAE the man put down the bag, turned off the lights and opened fire.

Workout carry? Obviously not. The likelihood that a gym member could have retrieved their legal firearm from a locker and stopped George Sodini’s killing spree is small. But not non-existent.

More important, what of the transition from car to gym and back to car? Check out this story from yesterday’s

Yu Masaki [above] was told not to return to the Planet Fitness gym at Northeast Loop 410 and McCullough Avenue because of his “extremely aggressive advances” toward women there, police said.

One of those women was Margaret McCombs, 21, a gym patron who refused his overtures, declined to take a gift he offered her and finally was chased across a parking lot Sunday night when his infatuation turned deadly, police said . . .

McCombs, Escamilla and at least two other gym employees were leaving Planet Fitness around 7:15 p.m. Sunday. As Escamilla walked McCombs to her vehicle, a man wearing dark clothing suddenly ran toward them, pointing a gun and firing it, one of the employees later told police.

The gunfire stopped and Escamilla, his hands against his chest, stumbled toward a co-worker, who had ducked behind a car, the report states. Masaki chased McCombs as she fled, the witness said, and he heard more gunfire as he tried to help Escamilla, then saw Masaki running back toward them, the report states.

The witness ran into a nearby electronics store, where he heard even more shots and saw a small black car speed away. Escamilla was on the ground, no longer responsive, shot in the face and upper torso. The witness ran to McCombs, who was bleeding from the neck. She told him that Yu, “the Japanese boy,” had shot her, according to the report and other police accounts.

LifeTime is operating under the asinine assumption that bad guys observe firearms bans—especially when the rules are posted on a sign. In fact, it’s just security theater designed to make customers feel safer.

Judging from the story above and using simple common sense, that’s not a good idea. Nor should an aspiring former OFWG (or other gun-carrying demographic) belong to LifeTime Fitness—or any other health club that bans legal gun owners from exercising their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.

Encouraging gun-free zones with your hard-earned money is not good for the health of your gun rights or the people within the zone. Don’t do it.

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Brett Solomon got his first taste of the magazine world covering car electronics for CarSound & Performance Magazine. He landed the job by being noticed for designing high-end car audio systems. Which was fine by him because there was no way he was going to pass the third level of calculus toward an electrical engineering degree at University of Delaware. Not with those DuPont scholars around campus, he’ll take Journalism over Engineering, thank you very much. He has since written for a number of publications (think in-flight journalism) that lack the chutzpah of Robert Farago, and having all of those milquetoast reviews pent up in his system now allows his pen to spit fire. We’ll, he is just not that mean but happy to tell the truth…and the truth is most firearms are fun!


  1. I would suggest sending this to their Corporate Law Dept. with the message that the ED of TX is looking forward to welcoming the eventual class action lawsuit.

  2. “LifeTime is operating under the asinine assumption that bad guys observe firearms bans—especially when the rules are posted on a sign. In fact, it’s just security theater designed to make customers feel safer.”

    I’m curious about the Law. If a gym does not have such ‘a ban’ (as ineffective as they are with criminals) and a shooting does occur — say a member brings a gun and goes ballistic — would it then be the case that the gym could be more easily sued?

    • Yep. Now, that does not mean they are liable. Recall Sean Connery from the Untouchables “It is not what you know, it is what you can prove.” Here, everyone gets sued, from the gym, to managment, to the people working the desk to the police, you name it. It does not mean they are liable. However, the cost of protracted litigation and availability of insurance means that many will settle for the cost to try the case. Remember that we don’t have the British “loser pays” system so unless a court determines a suit is frivlous, everyone pays their own legal fees. And in this instance, an insurance company would rather pay $1M for certainity that they are out of litigation than throw the dice and get hit for $20M plus punatives.

  3. 24 Hour Fitness has the same silly policy – although I haven’t checked the signs at the door – but it is on their webpage:

    I am not sure what we can do about it if all, or most, or even if they are the only game in town. I guess we can always keep a 5lb dumbell nearby to throw at a ‘perp’.

    I suppose education is the key. Not that I condone it, but concealed is concealed.

  4. Boston Sports Clubs’ regs don’t prohibit legal firearms. My local manager told me to lock it up in one of their small lockers and call it good.

  5. LifeTime Fitness is based in MN. In 2003, when the MN law was improved to be a shall issue law, the statute stipulated the exact language shown, “OPERATOR bans guns in these premises,” as the official manner of posting a facility. It is Lifetime’s corporate policy to ban guns at all their facilities, even ones in other states. So they probably just ordered copies of their MN ban sign for every building of theirs around the country.

    That, of course, doesn’t answer “why?” just “why that particular phrasing?”

    • Actually they’re using legally correct language in Texas.

      A “gunbusters” sign is not legal in TX. There is very specific wording for the required sign in Texas and LifeTime is using the exact specified language including the size and contrast required for the lettering by law.

      its not a cookie-cutter sign….they have thought out very well the exact verbiage needed to make you enter a Gun Victim Zone.

      Take your money elsewhere and work out somewhere safe. LifeTime is inviting a disaster IMHO.

  6. Do none of you shower at the gym after a workout? I would neither want to bring a firearm into the shower nor leave it in a locker, even if it is locked. I know this is outside the right/wrong discussion, but this seems like a practical issue, to me.

    • Karlb,

      Its not the inside the gym possibilities you have to worry about.

      Its the car-to-the-door trip and the door-to-the-car trip you have to worry about.

      Consider your leaving the gym, tired (if you really worked out), hands full of gym bag, keys, etc….. you’re easy pickin’s for the first hood rat that finds you. Or, they’re waiting in your car when you get out.

      And LifeTime has taken away your only real possibility for defending yourself. You won’t get a second chance very often to tell about it.

      Crime can happen any where any time….are you willing to risk it? if so, you’re good to go, but I’m not. its a personal decision.

  7. I dont support breaking the law, but when it comes to “No Guns Allowed” and your constitutional right to bear arms… I have a snaking feeling you can ignore that sign. If you have an LTC how are they going to know? Your safety, no matter how improbable it is you’ll ever need your LTC, is of no concern to them. Thus they have no say in the matter. I’m not familiar with NY laws, but, hypothetically speaking, whats the worst they could do if you ignored the sign and was made by an employee or patron? What if “something” happened and you stopped the shooter? Whats the worst they could do?

    • The worst is you can get arrested and charged with a misdemeanor in Texas. You’ll get a ride to the jail for sure.

      No sense risking your life for 20 minutes on the LifeTime treadmill. Find another place and take your money with you.

  8. Boycott them. Ask your friends and family to boycott them. I use CVS over Walgreens exclusively due to their respective stance and action on civil liberties (2A).

  9. In Ohio, carrying in a posted location is a misdemeanor. They can ask you to leave. If you don’t, you’re trespassing.

    However, there are lots of practical problems with trying to carry in a gym. Hard to conceal when you’re wearing gym clothes. Can’t carry in the shower. Leaving it in your locker (even when you put your own lock on it) is risky, and anyway it’s hard to get at quickly if you need it.

    Yes, I’m an OFWG, but I try to do my exercising by walking and weightlifting. Not as good as a gym, maybe, but at least I’m armed at all times.

  10. This is the very reason I quit LifeTime Fitness.

    Their parking lot in North Dallas Texas is notorious for smash and grab thefts by the hundreds. So much so that police are having to stake out the lot in unmarked vehicles just to try and catch the fleet-footed thieves.

    Yet LifeTime prohibits the best way to defend yourself.

    Basically, I did not feel comfortable there any more. Entering the gym early in the morning or late at night is a gamble with your life.

    Find another place to work out.

    • You don’t have to defend yourself against smash and grab thieves. I think people lose sight of the fact that just because you have a permit to carry, doesn’t mean you have the right to whip it out at the scene of a crime.

      Your gun is for your protection. You don’t have the right to shoot a thief as he’s running with your iPod.

      I am pro-gun, anti-liberal, but most importantly, pro-honesty. And honestly, this isn’t an inconvenience in the slightest. It’s more viewed as a SNUB than an actual concern. “I have the RIGHT” etc.. I don’t personally like the idea of people walking around heavy equiment in a crowded gym with loaded guns attached to their hip. Leave it in the car or at home.

      For that reason, they have the right to post their signs, and we ought to obey them, not try to find ways around it, or encourage loopholes. We ought to show some respect.

  11. Dave, I agree with everything you’ve said. I, too, have recently left lifetime because of their liberal 30.06 sign on the outside of the Frisco location. I now workout about 2 miles down the road at a gym that does not ban guns.

    Honestly, I don’t see nearly as many 30.06 signs around town than i expect to. However, there is a tricky situation that i’m in now. I posted it on, too. My employer ‘bans’ guns in the workplace, but there are no physical property signs such as a 30.06, or even a gun buster for that matter. I still carry and so do friends of mine that work here with CHLs, but there are a few gun guys here that opt to leave their weapon in their car.

    Somebody had mentioned that you could blatantly ignore the sign in your state that bans firearms; well in Texas, you actually kind of can. Lawmakers ‘forgot’ to write into law any consequences if you are discovered carrying in a gun-free or prohibited area. The most anybody can do is ask you to leave. If you leave, no harm and no foul. It is still the law, and you should follow the law, but the loophole is still fact. However, if you refuse to leave (not very smart) then you can be charged with criminal trespassing and possibly unlawful carry.

  12. Ok I am a year late here but nonetheless…my Lifetime Fitness posted the same sign on the front door about two years ago. I questioned the manager and he told me to call Corporate. I called Corporate and spoke with their staff counsel Mr. Erik Lindseth. His response was “we just feel our clubs are safer without firearms present.” I understand he was just doing his job but you can’t reason with non-reason like that, so I terminated my membership. What is more interesting is that if you do a search for Lifetime CEO Bahram Akradi you will find he has a list of run-ins with the law including road rage, assault, and reckless discharge of a firearm, all from separate incidents over the years. So I think what their counsel was trying to tell me was that the gyms are safer when people like Bahram Akradi do not have access to firearms.

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