Three Things the Fort Myers Planet Fitness Did Right After Kicking Out Man with Tourette Syndrome

Josh Ertter is living with Tourette Syndrome (TS), and often has to take the extra step to inform those around him that he may make involuntary movements and noises. That’s what he did last month before working out at his local Planet Fitness. He was still told that he was unwelcome.

Josh recounted  to Fox 4, “The staff member said ‘sir, I know you have Tourette’s, and I know you can’t control it, but we’re going to have to ask you to leave. You’re not welcomed here.’ And I was like what? Seriously?”

And this is a from a “Judgement Free Zone.”

The incident was humiliating, intolerant, and a violation of rights. It was a glaring example of how little is understood about TS, and how it impacts those who live with it. Unfortunately, Josh’s experience is not an isolated one – these types of scenarios play out in workplaces, restaurants and other public places across the country.

Josh, who happens to be one of our former Youth Ambassadors, considered filing a lawsuit. He instead took it as an opportunity to educate the public on this condition.

What the Fort Myers Planet Fitness did next is exactly what we would hope for.

  1. They apologized. Planet Fitness did not wish this away. They acknowledged that it took place, and apologized both directly to Josh and publicly.
  2. They listened. When we learned about what happened to Josh, we knew this would be a powerful teachable moment for Planet Fitness and their staff. We wanted them to know how harmful these kinds of actions are for those who have TS and Tic Disorders, and they heard us out.
  3. They educated. Planet Fitness welcomed Josh back to speak to employees at the same location that sent him home. In April, he and TAA President and CEO Amanda Talty co-factilated a staff training about TS and Tic Disorders.

After the training, one staff member said on social media, “Thank you very much, Josh! We’re happy to continue learning to improve our Judgement Free Zone so that everyone can feel welcome at our Planet.”

This is what we want people get out of our trainings. These kinds of interactions are huge in raising awareness and increasing tolerance for those who live with TS and Tic disorders.

To the Fort Myers Planet Fitness, we thank you for modeling what it takes to provide a safe space for your guests of all kinds.

Our hope is that more companies see the value of providing awareness training for their employees and managers so that we can continue to create more tolerance and acceptance for the Tourette community and beyond.

Are you interested in hosting a TS training in your community or workplace? Contact us about it here.