Local Members Torn Over Gym Owner’s Support of Trump; ‘It’s Very Disheartening and Disturbing’


Grant Griglak in front of Equinox.

By Carol Tannenhauser

A popular Upper West Side gym was pulled into a debate over President Donald Trump this week, and members were torn about how to react. Stephen Ross, the chairman of The Related Companies, which owns Equinox, held a fundraiser for Trump’s reelection in the Hamptons on Friday. An Equinox member, meanwhile, stood outside the Equinox on Amsterdam Avenue and 76th Street, urging members to drop out to protest Ross’ support.

“I showed up with fliers to pass out, but I have to go cancel my membership first,” said Grant Griglak, 32. “A gym that profits off my community shouldn’t be funding Donald Trump’s re-election in any way, shape or form, directly or indirectly. I’ve been a member of the club for four years and I’m going to switch.”

Not everyone was quite so definitive. Here’s what six other random members, of varying ages, genders, and backgrounds, said. They preferred to remain anonymous.

“It’s been a tough 48 hours. Equinox is a big part of my day. But to know that I’m directly or otherwise complicit in something that I’m so against is difficult. I’ll have to think about it when it’s time to renew.”

“One thing has nothing to do with another. You’re talking about politics instead of about a place that was my sanctuary. I was going there for my body, my spirit, my mind. I don’t even like that they have news on all day long, because it makes people angry. I want to go there and be happy.”

“I’m thinking about quitting and a lot of my friends are too.”

“I’m obsessed with Equinox, so it’s not going to make me stop going, but it’s very disheartening and disturbing. I’m separating the man from my experience at this gym. To me it’s worth every overpriced penny that I pay for it. It’s still the best gym in the city; it’s just the senior management. The people who work here, the trainers, instructors and managers, have nothing to do with it. Why penalize them?”

“I am disheartened by it, but I fully support the people who have been there for so long and have taught there and worked there, and who probably don’t believe the same things as Stephen Ross. Related owns many, many things, and I think people who want to boycott Equinox should also boycott the Time Warner Center, Hudson Yards, SoulCycle, and all the Related buildings.”

“I only got a free trial. I have to look into it. If I find out the owner supports Trump, I will just pull out.”

“It will blow over.”

In the meantime, a petition has been placed on change.org demanding that Equinox end its support of Donald Trump. It had nearly 6,000 signatures by Friday evening, with the number rising fast.

Equinox and Soulcycle have sought to distance themselves from Ross, calling him a “passive investor.”

One other organization sent out a new promotion amidst the controversy. The Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan, also on Amsterdam and 76th, put out a release on Friday, with the headline, “A gym with values. A community with vision.” Anyone willing to switch from another gym (wink wink) “will save $200 when they join by August 31.”

NEWS | 74 comments | permalink
    1. Deri says:

      NYSC is also offering a discount (waiving initiation fee) for anyone switching from Equinox. https://www.instagram.com/p/B07RBErlS6i/?fbclid=IwAR2iEc8VqUZqFTzWFqbaWgZXB_IYEDpM0N-5d6ScSEfPmyatzeTbvSpftyM

    2. Jen says:

      “In the meantime, a petition has been placed on change.org demanding that Equinox end its support of Donald Trump”. It is sheer lunacy. I’m a democrat, don’t support GOP values and have zero respect for Trump. But creating a petition demanding any institution to end its support of a legal political party or figure is undemocratic to say the least. And simply stupid and insane. And dangerous, what’s next – shunning and jailing people who don’t share your views? We are not far off that right now.

      • Bruce E. Bernstein says:

        Jen, you always start with “I’m a Democrat…” and then sharply criticize other Democrats and progressives.

        Economic boycotts ARE an expression of democracy. there is nothing “dangerous” about putting economic and political pressure on the owner of a business.

        or maybe you would have been against the Montgomery bus boycott… or boycotts of South African products during apartheid. In fact, i was active in the anti-apartheid movement in the ’80s and remember arguments such as yours being made.

        Or what about boycotts of Woolworths in NYC for their segregationist policies in N. Carolina?

      • StephG says:

        With all due respect, I completely agree with Bruce. This administration is dangerous, plain and simple. This goes beyond party affiliation in my opinion. We must take action any way that we can. Consumerism is power, it matters where you spend your money. So if you are supporting a company or business that you know supports a dangerous agenda, then you are supporting those things. We have the right and responsibility to speak out and act, especially in times like these!

    3. Lulu says:

      Wtf does a mans personal political views have to do with anything?

      • Paul says:

        In the 30s, Henry Ford was donating to overtly anti Semitic groups.
        Should Jews have ignored that when buying cars?
        Seriously?

        Funding trump is funding bigotry.

        • Been There Seen That says:

          Re: “Should Jews have ignored that when buying cars?”

          No, they DIDN’T ignore it! “Jews don’t buy Fords!” was what my family said, back in the dark ages (late 40’s-50’s).

          They also said “Jews shouldn’t read any Hearst paper!” b/c it was alleged that W.R. Hearst was antisemitic.

          And this was in a generally-tolerant NYC (for white-folk anyway). It’s amazing how this hatred spread in a pre-pre-Internet era.

          Maybe that’s why “You’ve Got To Be Carefully Taught”, the anti-bigotry number from South Pacific, caused such controversy:

          “…You’ve got to be taught / Before it’s too late / Before you are six / Or seven / Or eight / To HATE all the people / Your relatives HATE / You’ve Got To Be Carefully Taught….”

          • Paul says:

            Why is refusing to buy from someone who hates you and would use your own money against you “intolerance?”
            Please elaborate…

      • Not rocket science says:

        If you spend even a few minutes joking this over, I think you’ll figure it out. In a word: MON_Y.

      • marianne says:

        Exactly right, Lulu!

    4. Sherman says:

      I don’t like Trump myself but these protesters are a bunch of liberal hypocrites (of which there are many on the UWS).

      Not many illegal refugees or people of color can afford to join an expensive and upscale club like Equinox.

      There are plenty of cheaper gyms in the neighborhood. By joining Equinox these members are deliberately isolating themselves from the very people they claim to support so much.

      • Paul says:

        Not sure if you know what hypocrisy is.

        This is about putting money in the pocket of someone who is funding bigotry.

        Which is about the right of a person to spend her money as she sees fit. Nobody is questioning Ross’ rights here. They’re just talking about their own.

        The stark case remains Ford and his funding anti semites in the 30s. Obviously people had the right to factor that into their car buying decisions whether they were buying the cheapest or most expensive car on the market.

    5. Erica says:

      People can justify it all they want and he’s NOT a passive investor. He’s a majority owner and has time and again promoted both companies as such.

    6. Uncle Sam says:

      Changing your gym or cancelling your membership is not going to stop Trump from being re-elected in 2020.

    7. sjk2193 says:

      Vote with your dollar. It’s the only thing, other than big data that influences politics. My membership is cancelled.

    8. Matt West 81Street says:

      I dropped out yesterday and so did three of my friends.

    9. John says:

      If you look at political donation, Uber and Lyft and most banks give money to Both parties including Trump. So if we go down this path you will be Walking for your exercise with money under your mattress.

    10. MB/UWSer says:

      Clearly a time for checking-in with oneself regarding values. Going along to get along is coming to an end.

      And these struggles are real.

    11. Bob Lamm says:

      Bravo to everyone who quits Equinox in protest. And bravo to Bruce Bernstein for reminding everyone, including alleged Democrats, that economic boycotts have long been a crucial tactic in nonviolent protests against injustice.

    12. JS says:

      A very good reason to cancel your membership at equinox. Essentially mr. Ross’s profits support Trump.
      Very good article.

      • C. Kerr Uv-Trooth says:

        Re: “A very good reason to cancel your membership at equinox. Essentially Mr. Ross’s profits support Trump.”

        ESSENTIALLY, that cannot really be proved:
        According to Wikipedia, Mr. Ross’s major profits come from his role as head of “The Related Companies”, a developer which made Manhattan more fascinating with Time-Warner Center (replaced the hideous New York Coliseum), Hudson Yards (built over a railyard, displacing nothing), etc.

        With his (GASP!!) developer profits Ross has donated a total of $350M to his alma-mater, the University of Michigan.

        As for the “Let’s-All-Put-On-A-Show-And-Boycott-Equinox” thing, Equinox said:
        “Neither Equinox nor SoulCycle have anything to do with the event later this week and do not support it. As is consistent with our policies, no company profits are used to fund politicians.”

        • Stuart says:

          Should families stop their high school seniors from applying to the University of Michigan? Ann Arbor is in one of the most Democratic-leaning counties in Michigan…

    13. 92nd Street says:

      I have cancelled my membership, there a are lot’s of Gyms in Manhattan that do not support bigotry. I have seen a few, but are there any suggestions?

      I’d prefer a Chain to a single Gym…

    14. Nicholas M Archer says:

      First World problems…

    15. Upward Facing Dog says:

      It also includes Pure Yoga, of which I’m a member. It seems so antithetical to the core principles of yoga that this creep is a “passive” investor” who supports a platform of hate speech, division, bigotry, etc. However, I’m sure that is just the tip of the iceberg in corporate America, so not going to cancel my membership for now. I only hope he gets some instant karma for contributing to and supporting harmful, toxic politics. Namaste.

    16. jezbel says:

      People vote with their “pocketbooks” everyday and have done so for years. People who boycott certain products are telling the product supplier & maker that they’re not happy. They expect better. People have run online boycotts of sponsors of TV shows & FOX New (for example) and the sponsor must decide which is more important to them, the negative publicity or continuing to sponsor something the ratings clearly tells them is a failing strategy. Years ago when farmworkers picking grapes in California were not being paid minimum wage I remember my mother saying she refused to buy grapes at all until the issues were solved. She & lot of other mothers in 1965 (who did the family shopping) helped call attention to Cesar Chavez who led a strike of the United/National Farm Workers for 5 years. And they ultimately won.
      We all have the right to vote with our money, memberships and boycotts. It’s a very American thing to do.

    17. UWS Craig says:

      Donald Trump’s racism and racist supporters need to be exposed. I wonder how many Equinox members would renew their memberships if their names were made a matter of public record, just like any other Trump contributor?

      • John says:

        The racist supporters thing liberals use is all Bull. I live in NYC and i support trump as i am not willing to pay higher tax’s to support sanctuary city’s. This city is full of mean folks but in the 24 years i have lived on the upper west side I have never meet a racist nor a white supremacist. Including my family home in western NC I have yet to meet a racist in my five decades of life. So please stop the universal labels you can not win an election with this tactic.

        • Larry says:

          John,
          It’s important to inform you that although you may not be racist, your support for Trump and anyone else who supports Trump, absolutely does make you a racist enabler.

          If you can sleep at night while protecting those values, you are on the wrong side of this moment in American history.

    18. michael says:

      This is a terrific example of splitting – not only of our nation, but of our thought process as individuals. Cognitive splitting is adolescent behavior, one which children engage in and mature people in this case seemingly need to work to avoid. To pigeon hole, a person into good or bad, heroic or evil, forces a categorization which in reality does not exist is and is actually detrimental to society. Cognitive splitting does not improve us, it tears us apart. The man may support Trump, but he apparently also created a gym which likely improves 1,000’s of lives by employing trainers, managers, construction workers, mechanics, builders, equipment shippers, etc who as a result can feed their families.

      Who do you really think this boycott hurts?

    19. Tim says:

      Sanctimonious snowflakes. What if Ross was a minority owner? What if it was discovered that lots of stores, shops, and restaurants in the neighborhood had owners or managers or employees who donated to conservative causes? (Psst, they do) Hmmmm. TDS is a real thing, wow.

    20. Evan Bando says:

      Palantir Inc, co-founded by Peter Thiel, a major trump supporter, provides ICE with big data analytics and has a key role in the process of identifying and deporting illegal immigrants thanks to data mining. Amazon provides the big data to Palantir through its cloud services, AWS. Amazon’s relationship with ICE is just as direct and empowering as Stephen Ross’s fund raisers. Boycott Amazon until they stop providing vital information to ICE that rips families apart and deports immigrants who were lured here for decades by business and the US government for their cheap labor. It’s easier to boycott Amazon than it is to find another gym to go to.

    21. robert says:

      Ok the facts folks Ross is NOT an owner. His venture capital group years ago along with other known venture capitalist that give millions to Dems only. This fund has a very small minority stake in these companies at this point. So are you all going to stop going to Starbucks and demand that the close their stores as the founder Howard Schultz has given repeatedly to various Rep candidates across the country. When asked his response was a none response

      Also pls keep making stupid things like this as an issue. The fundraiser was expected to bring in a bit of 2 million, with all this phoney holabalo more people attended and over 11 million was raised as per RNC filings.

    22. ML says:

      HOW TO CANCEL YOUR GYM MEMBERSHIP AT EQUINOX,SOULCYCLE,PURE YOGA AND OTHER FACILITIES ..via Newsweek https://www.newsweek.com/equinox-soulcycle-membership-cancel-how-1453286

    23. Terence says:

      Personally, I don’t think there’s a better fitness facility on UWS than NUYU Revolution at 100th, Broadway, 2nd floor. Owner Susan Rappaport offers Spin, Yoga, core fitness training, and more….all in a classy space.

      • Sherman says:

        Actually the best fitness facility is free of charge.

        I run two or three times a week and I work out in my apartment using resistance bands, kettlebells and body weight exercises, ie pushups, pull-ups, planks, shadow boxing…

        I no longer belong to a gym, I save time and best of all I’m in the best shape of my life.

        And my workouts don’t cost me a penny.

    24. Bruce E. Bernstein says:

      it’s interesting that every single time there is any sort of protest against Trump described on WSR, Trump supporters tell the protesters that they are “protesting the wrong way” and “are hypocrites.” I’m pretty sure that the only way of protesting against Trump that they would like is not to protest at all.

      • Bob Lamm says:

        Excellent point, Bruce. But it goes way beyond Trump supporters and the West Side Rag. It’s been true of protests forever that there are always lots of people, some of whom begin with “I’m a Democrat, but…” or “I’m a liberal, but…” who speak out against protests. It’s the wrong cause. Or the wrong place. Or the wrong time. Or the wrong way. And virtually never do they say: this is what I am doing to make a protest in the right place, at the right time, in the right way. I’ll keep saying: I respect the people who are quitting Equinox or protesting against Steve Ross and other Trump supporters in any nonviolent way. Including economic boycotts.

    25. Stacey says:

      I really hope that all the folks who cancelled their membership are aware that Ronald Lauder (owner of Estee Lauder) was in attendance at the fundraiser as well. If you’re silly enough to be a part of this ridiculous “cancel culture” then you better be ready to throw out all the stuff in your makeup bag that is made by the Estee Lauder Companies (look it up… the list is not short). If you don’t plan on doing that then you’re a hypocrite and don’t know the true meaning of boycott. It’s so ridiculous – you should basically start growing your own food and making your own clothes to make sure you don’t support a business that may infringe on your beliefs. I’m so tired of people picking and choosing and jumping on bandwagons without thinking things through.

      • Bob Lamm says:

        LOL. I don’t have a makeup bag to throw out. The first boycott I supported was Cesar Chavez and the United Farmworkers union’s boycott of grapes. I’ve supported many others since. I’m afraid it doesn’t trouble me that someone who doesn’t have the integrity to use a full name is calling me a hypocrite. I’ll survive. 🙂

      • Terri says:

        Give us time. We will act accordingly as the rocks are turned over and the creepy crawlers scurry from the light.

    26. alison tress says:

      I hate the idea of my
      dues supporting Trump in any way.
      That being said, I want to remind everyone that Equinox funds Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center’s “Cycle For Survival” -a National
      fund raiser for rare cancer research.
      Without the support of Equinox, this amazing event would not exist. This year they raised $42 million.
      Please keep that in mind!!!

      • Bob Lamm says:

        Could you please clarify what you are asserting here? Surely you’re not saying that Equinox “funds” the event by donating $42 million each year. So exactly how much does Equinox contribute? And when you say that this worthy event “would not exist without the support of Equinox,” what is the evidence for that statement?

    27. AC says:

      I go to NYSC but I might switch to Equinox just to prove a point. Keep politics out of my workout!

    28. Janet David says:

      There are better gyms and less expensive and less attitude

    29. K says:

      I agree that democracy includes protesting with your pocketbook, and/or symbolically, and people have an absolute right to do that. That said, it does seem a little random to boycott Equinox when most people don’t research 90% of what else they do, buy, or support. Also, I don’t think Ross is going to be hurt as much as his employees (and certainly The Donald won’t be) because I have a feeling that most people who are quitting are not Equinox lifers anyway. If you care, write letters, vote, donate, volunteer…quitting or boycotting the gym isn’t as strong a protest and mainly impacts employees, not the rich person who hires them.

    30. Jim says:

      If you love the gym and quit because of its political leanings, you are free to do so. However, I doubt if Equinox will suffer. This will blow over and they will replace you with a, probably, a more expensive membership.

      The only ones that will suffer are you, and the staff.

      Oh, and I hate Equinox. I managed a couple of their clubs years ago. What a miserable ownership!

    31. T says:

      You boycotters are brainwashed. You might as well boycott everything. Republicans are roughly half of the country and the closet Republicans are just afraid to say they voted or will vote for trump. The media is insane right now

      • UWSHebrew says:

        they announce their boycotts to make themselves feel good, like they are doing a good deed. they’re just talking to themselves and accomplishing nothing, like the pink hat marches.

        • Beth says:

          Oh yeah, nothing at all happened because of those pink hat marches – only the #MeToo movement and according to Vox, 263
          celebrities, politicians, CEOs, and others accused of sexual misconduct since April 2017. Yeah, nothing happened at all because of those pink hat marches.

          • Bob Lamm says:

            Well said, Beth. It’s wonderful that so many women–and some men–are challenging the pervasive misogyny of our culture, including the endless sexual harassment of women. I’m proud to know women who did so in the late 1970s in Alexander v. Yale, the first time that undergraduate students in the U.S. brought their own university into federal court on the issue of sexual harassment. Four decades later, Alexander v. Yale remains a crucial legal linchpin in all Title IX activism on college campuses regarding rape, sexual assault, and sexual harassment.

          • UWSHebrew says:

            completely false. pink hat marches were against Trump “Not My President”. Wikipedia has a lengthy entry for Me Too and there is no mention of Trump or the pink hat marches.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Me_Too_movement

          • T says:

            What does that have to do with boycotting businesses?

    32. Doug says:

      Awesome! I’m looking forward to my Equinox being less empty now!

    33. David says:

      TRUMP 2020!

    34. cj Berk says:

      Those who remain at this particular gym are complicit in the hideous words and actions of Donald Trump. Welcome to Germany circa 1930’s. If you don’t stand for something, then you stand for nothing. Your choice but I’m so glad I don’t know anyone who would help fund hatred, prejudice, cruelty, and whatever else is on Trump’s horizon. All the lies, the ignorance, the narcissistic puffery, Trump is obviously so mentally deficient he should not be on the public stage representing our Country. By supporting Stephen Ross and his enterprise, you condone his beliefs. One word of advice: if you travel for business as I do (or even for pleasure), say you’re Canadian.

    35. Sarah Russo says:

      I am totally disgusted by every one of you liberals who thinks you are doing us all a favor by telling us how to feel, vote and opine. Sound exactly what you say Trump is doing??? Stephen Ross has every right to believe in what he believes in just like you do with your sham of a Democratic Party who can’t even get off their own band wagons enough to realize they are creating a complete political mess. Anyone who can support Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders needs to have their head examined just like you think all Trump supporters do. Last time I checked we lived in a democratic society where everybody’s beliefs and feelings were supposed to be accepted. Not just yours because you are liberal. I’ve never experienced more hate and racism from liberals declaring that we all must feel the way that you do. I certainly was unhappy for 8 years while President Obama was in office but I wasn’t whining and crying like a 5 year old. Get over it and go exercise somewhere else. If I were Equinox, I’d be happy to see you go.

      • cj Berk says:

        Not Republican, not Democrat, not liberal,not conservative. Simply put Donald Trump is “mentally unfit to lead”. Your confused rant is sad in its blind ignorance. Reminds us of the
        hysterical mob sitting behind him at rallies. Shrieking 3 word nonsensical slogans. We thought “oh no it can’t happen here”. Well here it is at our doorstep. Be careful what you wish for.

        • T says:

          I think he’s doing a great job. Yes his Twitter insults are over the top but he only calls out people that attack him. He should not post a lot of them but this guy could cure cancer and people would say he’s exterminating a species. The media is so biased and takes statements completely out of context I get it but don’t forget about the great economy, low unemployment, etc

      • Tim says:

        Thank you Sarah for explaining it so plainly and respectfully. Liberals hate President Trump so much, they vilify anything and anyone remotely associated with him. Raging liberals need to learn how to “agree to disagree”. It’s a useful life skill.

    36. ZoomZ says:

      This is getting to be too much.
      This is still a free country, right?
      Who one supports is up to the one who supports.
      You want to cancel – go ahead, but please don’t spout this crap about your dues supporting Trump.
      Your dues supported Obama, Bush #2, Clinton and all the rest.
      No one made a big deal about it then as you do now.
      You want to pull out? Do so, quick.
      You want to complain, wait for November 2020 and make your voice really count.

    37. robert says:

      Here is a way to end the question of why you should be spending your hard earned $$$$ on any gym.

      Get a Labrador Retriever puppy and you will never need a gym. Look walks are a must so you will get plenty of fresh air and exercise, not to mention you might actually interact with human beings face to face rather than on just facebook.

    38. Leave politics out. Personal choices are just that. PERSONAL