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Bay Area gym criticized for racist, anti-Asian posts

Island Personal Training, a small Northern California gym chain with locations in Alameda and Redding owned by Jason Wilson, is being called out for a page on its website that promoted massage services and included racist language directed toward Asian Americans.

The gym’s website is currently offline (and their Instagram account also appears to have been made private), but ABC 7 reports the page made special note to promote that the gym’s massage therapists “speak English… kind of rare for the field round these parts,” and added that the gym is not like “shady Asian ‘massage parlors.'”

Additionally, in a Facebook post on the Redding location’s page last May, Island Personal Training accused nearby massage parlors in the area of operating as “brothels.” The post also said unlike other nearby massage parlors, Island Personal Training is “not a dark shady, and/or dirty place that smells like Chinese food.”

The racist posts were first flagged in a Facebook group featuring more than a hundred members, ABC 7 reports, and have since received attention from STOPAAPIHate, a non-profit that tracks incidents of hate and discrimination against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States. 

“The kind of racist rhetoric and commentary adds to the persistent stereotypes that are not only offensive but really put out communities in danger, Cynthia Choi, one of STOPAAPIHate’s founders, told ABC 7.

Choi, who is also an executive director with Chinese for Affirmative Action, linked the gym’s language to the shooting spree at three spas and massage parlors in the Atlanta area last March, which saw eight people killed, including six Asian women, and another person wounded. The shooter, who later plead guilty to 23 charges and received a life sentence with no parole, initially blamed his violence on a sex addiction

“It’s very triggering given what happened with the Atlanta area shooting. We’re coming up on that anniversary where Asian women and Asian businesses were targeted, Choi told ABC 7.

Since ABC 7’s initial story, the gym’s Yelp page has been flooded with 1-star reviews, examples of abhorrent client interactions and calls for the business to shutter.

Owner Jason Wilson could not be reached for comment.

Anti-Asian hate crimes have skyrocketed both in the Bay Area and across the country during the pandemic. Reported hate crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders spiked 567% in 2021, according to preliminary figures released by the San Francisco Police Department late last month. The actual increase is likely higher, as not every victim reports their incidents to the police.