Former staff member says controversial workout video objectified her, other women

Screen captures of an Instagram video that was posted to Blue Ridge Cross Fit's account. The screen captures were later posted on Facebook. (Video by: Tom Tomlo)

Amanda Turlington who worked as the lead membership administrator for Tom Tomlo's Blue Ridge Crossfit gym, in Fletcher, has quit after her boss posted a video of women bending over, with sexually insinuating hashtags, that included Turlington working out at the gym.

The video, which was posted to the gym's Instagram Story, showed women in black workout stretch pants bent over, doing various body strengthening exercises. Owner Tom Tomlo acknowledged he had added emojis and phrases onto the video, next to the women's posteriors.

Amanda Turlington says Tomlo, refused to listen when she told him the video he posted objectified women.

"Over half of our team, our staff, had reached out to him. 'Tom, I don't feel comfortable with this, it isn't OK.' And he wouldn't hear any of it," Turlington said. "He was very defensive."

Turlington says she is one of the women seen in screenshots of the Instagram Story video, bent over with a thumbs up emoji and "#blueridgegirls" placed on top of the image. She told News 13 on Tuesday that she had no idea Tomlo was recording her working out on Friday.

"We come to the gym to work out and to be surrounded by people we care about and they care about our success," Turlington said. "I don't come to the gym to be sexualized. I don't come to the gym to have my body on display."

She says she has since quit the gym. Turlington said she took numerous calls Monday from clients both men and women who cancelled memberships in light of Tomlo's video.

See Amanda Turlington's interview here:

Tomlo apologized on Monday and said he didn't mean to offend anyone or any woman. He said the comments and video were meant to be lighthearted and fun. He also says the women in the video knew he was recording them during the workout and knew the video had been posted. Turlington said she was aware Tomlo would shoot and post videos but in the context of positive empowering videos, not like the one he posted on Instagram of the women with their posteriors in the air with hashtags.

Turlington said there were past instances where she saw Tomlo make sexual references during gym workouts.

"Tom has a history of tagging our 6 a.m. classes 'morning wood,'" Turlington said. "He very much has an alpha personality. He was in the military for years."

Turlington said she is proud of the work she's done to strengthen her body and mind through cross fit. She said she's proud of photos taken showing her strength, and that Tomlo undermined that.

She feels she became a role model for many female members in the gym, but feels, due to Tomlo's actions, that the gym is no longer a safe place for women to feel comfortable working out.

"I think cross fit is an amazing community of people supporting each other and living healthier lives. As a woman walking into a cross fit gym, it can be very intimidating. It's loud, they're people dropping weights, slinging steel around. But over time, I became more comfortable and fell in love with the community. It made me stronger, not only physically, but mentally and emotionally, and I have made some of my best friends at the gym."

She said the video Tomlo posted ruined the tight-knit family and supportive camaraderie at Blue Ridge Crossfit. She has quit the gym, and plans not to go back, but hopes the fallout will eventually make Tomlo realize that his defensive posture is wrong, and that reflecting on the way he objectified women in the video, is what he should take a hard look at.

"I love and care about him as a person and human being, but as a business owner, I 100 percent disagree with what he did. It's a big deal right now in our country, that women are taking a stand, and we're not silent anymore," Turlington said.

See Tom Tomlo's interview here:

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