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How The L.A. Fitness Community Is Responding To Stephen Ross' Trump Fundraiser

Aug 9, 2019
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Stephen Ross, a major investor in the high-end gyms SoulCycle and Equinox, hosted a high-dollar fundraiser for President Trump today and some members are not happy. That seems to be especially true in fitness-conscious LA, as NPR's Mandalit del Barco reports.

MANDALIT DEL BARCO, BYLINE: I started at the SoulCycle at a hip shopping center in Culver City. Not many cyclists in the spinning class in the middle of the day, but one of the employees, Tyra Lee, says much of the staff is worried that customers won't feel safe coming to a business associated with President Trump.

TYRA LEE: I feel like someone coming out as anti-LGBTQ and to be in an environment where the company, like, prides itself on creating a safe space and community, that's very troubling, you know.

DEL BARCO: Then I went to West Hollywood, known for its large LGBTQ community. Outside the Equinox gym on the Sunset Strip, I found Mark Watrell, an actor on his way to work out.

MARK WATRELL: You've got to allow people their First Amendment rights. If it's his choice, it's his choice. I don't agree with it, obviously.

DEL BARCO: But he lives just up the hill. Watrell says he doesn't believe in Trump's agenda, either.

WATRELL: But it's so close to the house. The convenience sometimes over wins principles. I don't want to be stuck in traffic going to another gym. I don't agree with anything, any of the policies that's coming out of our government right now. It just boggles my mind. But then again, I live in my little liberal bubble here in Los Angeles.

DEL BARCO: There's a planned protest outside this Equinox in West Hollywood. Organizer Gonzalo Garcia says he's heard from some people who plan to protest by giving up their memberships and others on staff who say they're quitting.

GONZALO GARCIA: I just can't justify giving somebody money for a product that's going to go to a president that spews hate.

DEL BARCO: Adam Bass is another protest organizer.

ADAM BASS: Standing in front of the Sunset Strip location of one of his major brands - two of his major brands; they're next door to each other, Soul Cycle and Equinox - is probably the closest I will get to getting a message to him that he's violating West Hollywood values by taking our money and then supporting a man who attacks everything we believe in.

DEL BARCO: He says he's heard other people may protest in other cities. We'll have to see if this movement has legs.

Mandalit del Barco, NPR News.

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