Twitter is currently roasting Anytime Fitness for a promotional email the gym sent to its members, Yahoo Lifestyle reports.
The email, which was sent from the gym's Manchester, Connecticut location, encouraged members to "be comfortable in your skin." The message, however, had the opposite effect on recipients—namely, former gym member Mora Reinka.
Reinka, who hasn't gone to Anytime Fitness in two years, shared a photo of the email to her Twitter, saying how "horrified" she felt by its message. "I just don't even know where to begin," she wrote. And quite frankly, it's easy to see why.
The email starts innocently enough, painting a picture of the "warm days ahead."
"Shorts, bathing suits, flip flops. The smell of suntan lotion. And LOTS of pictures of you that will be posted online forever," begins the message. Then it takes an unexpectedly dark turn. "[That means] LOTS of sucking in, side turns, skinny arm posts and god forbid, a side pic while sitting down."
It doesn't end there. The email then urges members to "take your hand, and grab the excess you have on your waist (front/back/sides.)"
"Can you pinch it? Or can you grab it?" the email continues. "Well, I want to call it what it is…FAT." (Find out why America hates fat women.)
Reinka's photo of the email quickly went viral. Now, people across the board are sharing how this kind of messaging is both disappointing and dangerous.
"Oh. My. It's like an eating disorder sent out an email," wrote one Twitter user.
A UK-based mental health awareness platform, Mental Health TV, tweeted: "This is very disappointing to see. Gyms need to have better awareness of eating disorders and other mental health issues relating to body image. This is not appropriate to send to anybody."
Another user shared her own "horrible" experience at an Anytime Fitness gym: "I quit their gym a few months ago and one time I was in the gym for 30 mins and when I left one of the fitness instructors said to me, 'Where are you going? You've only been here for 20 minutes,'" she wrote.
Following the backlash, Anytime Fitness' national media director, Mark Daly came forward with an official apology.
"That is not the sort of message that Anytime Fitness supports or encourages," he said in a statement to Yahoo Lifestyle. "In fact, it is the exact opposite of how we coach Anytime Fitness franchisees to communicate with potential members. We pride ourselves on being supportive and encouraging—never shaming."
Daly added that he has since spoken with the franchise owner of the Connecticut gym to express his disappointment. "He apologized…and promised not to send similar messages to anyone," said Daly. "We will be re-training the owner of the gym to be supportive and encouraging in his messaging and his actions."
The man who sent the message, Shawn Pyron, apparently thought the message was funny. However, he told Yahoo Lifestyle that he now realizes body shaming is not a joke.
"I'm very sorry about the promotional message that I sent to Ms. Reinka and other former members of our gym," he wrote in a statement. "It was poor attempt at using humor as a motivation for people to lead healthy lifestyles. I realize now that the message was not funny and that it offended many people. I'm truly sorry. I've learned from all of this and I will not repeat the mistake."
We've said it before, and unfortunately, we'll have to say it again: Body shaming is not the way to get people to achieve their weight loss goals. In fact, telling someone to focus on their "flaws" and inadequacies often has the opposite effect on their overall health.
Thankfully, body-positivity and self-love movements have gained incredible traction in recent years. But incidents like this prove there is still a lot of work to be done.
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This article originally appeared on Shape.com