Crunch fitness is facing a lawsuit after pole dancing class participant, Sue Ann Wee, fell attempting an upside down manuever and reported injury in both shoulders. According to her lawyer, she claims to have told the instructor at the Manhattan club that she couldn’t hold herself up but that the instuctor didn’t help her.
Wee, who is seeking unspecified damages, says the fitness chain did not provide proper supervision for the class. The New York based Crunch has not offered any commentary.
Most online articles, based on an AP report, are quite skim on details – but the LA Times article did have comments posted by readers; one an instructor and the other a long-time participant of pole dancing classes.
From the instructor point of view:
I sometimes encounter are women with low-self esteem who become angry when they can not execute certain moves. I try my best to encourage them and let them know that most moves are not learned in one lesson, it takes time, determination and practice. This sounds to me like a case of Little Lucy bumped her head and bruised her ego.
From the participant point of view:
She must be crazy to try to sue Crunch. A. You sign a waver form when you sign up for classes, acknowledging you understand the risks you take during any physical activity at a gym. and that the gym is NOT responsible for any personal injuries. B. She must have been high to think that there is no risk at taking a pole dance class, with or without supervision. when you hand upside down on a slippery pole you know exactly what risks you are taking, and she should not pretend like she had no idea she is risking an injury. No one put a gun to her head making her do anything, and in a group class there is no way an instructor can be hands on with every single girl. If she wanted that kind of attention she should have considered a private lesson.
In teaching any class, you inevitably encounter students who attempt moves that you assess to be way beyond their capability. You can layer and provide base options and look directly at the new individual – even address them directly – and tell them to “stay with this move”, but is it “low self esteem” that makes them do the advanced move anyway? And when they get lost or confused why do they get “angry”?
From the participant perspective, fortunately most people take the signed release at face value and assume personal responsibility for their actions and any resulting injuries. From a legal perspective, if it can be proven that the instructor or club was indeed negligent – either by what they did or didn’t do – anyone can bring a lawsuit despite any signed release.
Checking the Crunch website, a video of one of their pole dancing classes is provided to give participants an idea of what to expect. The instructor in the clip clearly labels the class as “intermediate to advanced” and it appears that students take turns on the limited amount of poles available to try out the moves. You also get the impression that spotting is provided and it looks like there is an additional person assisting the instructor. Having worked for Crunch in the past, I know they follow industry protocols if an injury does occur during a class by filing an incident report.
As we await further details of this case, we are reminded of the challenge we face each and every time we walk into a room full of students to teach a class. By and large, we appreciate the fact that most people think like QueenLeeNYC when she said:
…(I) never once considered holding anyone but myself responsible for any possible injuries I may occur during pole dance class. I am a grown woman and no one is making me hang upside down on a pole but myself. She should be ashamed of herself for trying to take advantage of a gym that is trying to give people a more exciting ways to exercise.