San Francisco Gold’s Gyms Running From Owner Robert Rowling And His Anti-Gay Karl Rove Cash

Following news that Gold’s Gym proprietor Robert Rowling (pictured below) — whose company TRT Holdings owns the franchised fitness enter, and who’s estimated net worth of $4.4 billion puts him at No. 189 on Forbes‘ list — donated $2 million to Karl Rove’s anti-gay political fundraising vehicle American Crossroads, at least four San Francisco-area Gold’s plan to leave the company after a 22-year relationship.

“Our contracts started 22 years ago, says Don Dickerson, director of operations for Gold’s in the Bay Area, tells Salon. “We’re one of the first franchisees for Gold’s Gym. We can’t get out over night, but we will be out of it.” Those contracts are up in September 2012. (Until then, these gyms will donate a portion of their revenues to LGBT groups.)

Gold’s Gym, like David Barton, is among those that have a famously queer membership. Gold’s doesn’t necessarily marketing itself as gay-specific (in a David Barton way), but it does actively court LGBT members. And its relationship with gays at large is akin to the way Target had a relationship with the community — until it too shat all over its membership base in favor of supporting bigoted political motives. The $2 million donation to Rove’s group will help fund the election efforts of living hate leaders Sharron Angle in Nevada and Roy Blunt, the Missouri congressman seeking a U.S. Senate seat, who wants to ban gay marriage and gay adoption.

Is Gold’s the only decent fitness option where you live? Cross your fingers that Madonna opens one of her Hard Candy venues in the U.S. soon.

Dickerson posted this message to members on his gyms’ website:

Dear Gold’s Gym Members,

In response to the donation to American Crossroads from Robert Rowling, the CEO of TRT holdings, Gold’s Gym San Francisco Bay Area would like to make you aware of the following:

We are a local, family run business of 4 gyms. A large percentage of our employees and members are from the LGBT community. Our company works tirelessly to support the LGBT community with financial donations to almost every major local LGBT charity. We are sponsors of the Academy of Friends, Folsom Street Fair, ALCS Riders, SF AIDS Foundation, PAWS, Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, Asian and Pacific Islander Wellness Center, Maitri, SF PRIDE and many, many more.

Gold’s Gym San Francisco has long been a pillar of the gay community. We will continue to be. It is very unfortunate that the CEO of TRT holdings has chosen this course of action. We do not support it in any way. Our original contractual obligations to Gold’s Gym International were signed over 22 years ago and TRT holdings is just the latest in a series of ownership groups that has presided over Gold’s Gym.

Our company has worked for over twenty years to support our LGBT staff, members and community in everyway possible and we will continue to.

We were as surprised by Mr. Rowling’s action as anyone but because our company believes in and lives up to the ideals of equality for all we are going to take the following actions:

1: Our contractual obligation with Gold’s Gym expires on September 15th, 2012 and on or prior to that date (our legal counsel is reviewing our options) we will leave the Gold’s Gym brand. It is a major initiative to create a new brand and leave Gold’s Gym which has been our identity for over 20 years but we will begin that process today.

2: For every dollar we pay Gold’s Gym in franchise fees we will donate an equal or greater amount to LGBT charities. While we donate much more than this to charities and community groups that support the LGBT community we want to make a commitment to match or exceed this amount until our relationship with Gold’s Gym can be severed.

3: Our management and staff will continue to support LGBT causes in every way possible and we will use our business as a platform to fight for change and equality for everyone. We have always taken great pride in being a leader in the LGBT community and we will continue to.

Thank you,

Don Dickerson

Director of Operations

Gold’s Gym Bay Area?

[photo via]

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  • Shawn

    Interesting… All these companies donating to bigoted republicans and the GOP is set to take control of the House (and maybe the senate). I’m glad that a few SF Gold Gyms will be leaving the company.

    The Dems may treat us as second rate citizens but the GOP treats us like plague infested criminals.

  • drums

    Now that is a classy course of action by Don Dickerson and co. Looks like there’s still hope for corporate social responsibility in our crazy market economy today.

  • Jon

    please dump the auto ads.

  • Symonds

    I live right next door to a gay-owned, locally-owned gym with decent facilities (and I know the gal through church to boot!), so Gold’s never did get any of my money.

  • Anthony

    I honestly dont think you could have asked for any better response from these gyms. They are truly remarkable.

  • ewe

    I will never set foot into a Golds Gym again and any local franchise had better change their name. Add Golds Gym to Macys, Bolt House Juices and Target. bye. I will take my fucking gay money elsewhere motherfuckers.

  • Darren

    @ewe: Don’t forget about Celestial Seasonings Tea.


    Unfortunately this corp is an ingredient in a big ole bowl of shit stew. Kudos to Don Dickerson for having the balls to give a huge Fcuk You to the corporate douches

    ……..Similar to the Curves chain. The CEO of that chain is an extreme rightwing lunatic nutbag. They partnered with terrorist organization american family association to sponsor a “healthy living” contest. While most Curves owners simply ignore the bigoted bile spewed by their corporate owners, it is so damm refreshing to see a group like the Golds actually do the right thing…….

  • scott ny'er

    Kudos to these gym owners for doing this. Hopefully there bizness won’t suffer. What about NYSC? This gym is like Starbucks in NYC, so it’s convenient, but I have a sneaking suspicion, they might be in bed with Repubs as well.

  • MJ

    You should probably post the updated release from Gold’s Gym…
    This is an unfortunate fact of life with publicy traded companies.

  • Hyhybt

    Very classy thing to do… and franchise agreements are not only not easy to get out of, but can mean losing a lot more than the name.

  • ewe

    @Darren: thank you Darren.

Comments are closed.