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‘Gym mafia won’t let me work out in peace’ says man lodging ELEVENTH complaint against Clissold Leisure Centre

PUBLISHED: 07:00 27 July 2016

Row: Dominic Benjamin works out in Clissold Park (Picture: Polly Hancock)

Row: Dominic Benjamin works out in Clissold Park (Picture: Polly Hancock)

Archant

An exasperated personal trainer is set to lodge his 11th formal complaint against Clissold Leisure Centre for “harassing” him while he works out.

Dominic Benjamin in Clissold Park, near the gym where he is locked in a strange battle with personal trainers (Picture: Polly Hancock)Dominic Benjamin in Clissold Park, near the gym where he is locked in a strange battle with personal trainers (Picture: Polly Hancock)

Dominic Benjamin, 54, has spent years locked in a bizarre battle with the council-owned gym, whose staff have repeatedly accused him of training their customers for cash.

That would be a breach of his membership. Personal trainers must cough up £500 for the right to do paid work at the leisure centre.

But in every case it has been found Mr Benjamin was merely exercising with his own friends and not training anybody.

When he complained about his “intimidation” by the gym in 2014, the council gave him a year’s free membership – plus £100 in compensation – to say “sorry”. That followed apologies and “goodwill gestures” from GLL, which runs leisure services under the name Better, over similar incidents in 2010 and 2011. In all, Mr Benjamin says he has received nine written or verbal apologies, a number of which have been seen by the Gazette.

Dominic is a personal trainer but has consistently denied doing any paid work at the gym - and has been cleared of doing so several times (Picture: Polly Hancock)Dominic is a personal trainer but has consistently denied doing any paid work at the gym - and has been cleared of doing so several times (Picture: Polly Hancock)

Now he is on the verge of making yet another formal complaint against the gym.

This time, Mr Benjamin was collared by staff as he worked out with a family friend, and was again accused of training the lad for cash – something he denies.

“It’s supposed to be a gym. It’s more like the Mafia,” he told the Gazette.

“If a guy who looks a bit muscular – or a woman who looks like they know what they’re doing – is training with a friend then as soon as they walk in they feel that they are being watched, that they are guilty of something.

"It’s supposed to be a gym. It’s more like the Mafia"

Dominic Benjamin

“That’s not the way you’re supposed to feel when you walk into a gym.”

One apology from a gym manager, sent in 2011, acknowledged Mr Benjamin had experienced a “persistent uncomfortable and unpleasant atmosphere” at the centre.

“My understanding from the feedback I have received is the staff do not create a welcoming and inviting environment for certain members,” the manager admitted.

Fed-up Mr Benjamin added: “Clissold is supposed to be a community gym. I’ve done a lot of work with the Hackney community.

“I feel like I’m being intimidated, like I’m being pushed out of going into my local gym. As far as I’m concerned, I’m not going to allow them to do it.”

A GLL spokesman said: “We are aware of claims a centre-user is using the gym for personal client training.

“We have a contract with Your PT to provide personal trainers across all our facilities. These PTs are trained, qualified and licensed to do so, which ensures this key service for our members is as safe as possible. Your PT also has the relevant insurance and liability in place.”

He added: “A personal trainer is allowed to use the centre with friends, but if GLL reasonably suspects that an individual is using the gym to personally train individuals then we reserve the right to take action against the individual, such as a ban.

“As the matter is being investigated thoroughly by the GLL management team in Hackney, we cannot comment further at this time.”


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