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Anytime Fitness in Wauwatosa is receiving national backlash after a photo of an “I can’t breathe” workout was shared on social media. 

The workout, which was posted on a dry-erase board at the gym, says “I can’t breathe,” and then “… don’t you dare lay down.” 

The workout also included a drawing of a person, drawn with black marker, in a kneeling position. The workout alternates between burpees, or squat thrusts, and rows. 

Several photos of the workout guide, which has since been removed at the gym, were shared on social media, causing corporate management to release a statement about the incident. 

“As leaders of Self Esteem Brands and the Anytime Fitness Brand, we were shocked and devastated to see that one of our franchise locations chose to offer an ‘I Can’t Breathe’ workout,” the statement said. 

“I can’t breathe” has been chanted at hundreds of protests and rallies across the nation in recent days, echoing the final words of George Floyd, who was killed in custody when a white police officer knelt on his neck in Minneapolis. 

Just days before the workout was posted, hundreds marched down North Avenue in Wauwatosa chanting these exact words.  

A phone call to the manager of the Anytime Fitness was not returned before this story was published. 

State Sen. Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee), joined by State Rep. Robyn Vining (D-Wauwatosa) and LaKeshia Myers (D-Milwaukee), issued a following statement regarding the workout: 

“As elected officials representing Wauwatosa, WI, we denounce Anytime Fitness’ ‘I Can’t Breathe’ workout regimen.”

“In the wake of Mr. Floyd’s death, many residents — including those living in Wauwatosa — have taken to the streets to protest disparate treatment of people of color. Wauwatosa’s residents have collectively amplified their voices to empathize and begin to reevaluate practices that perpetuate systemic racism in our community. Nothing about the past 14 days should have given anyone, let alone a business owner, the inkling that this workout was appropriately named,” the statement went on to say. 

Their full statement is here.

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Evan Casey can be reached at 414-403-4391 or evan.casey@jrn.com. Follow him on Twitter @ecaseymedia

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