TAMPA (FOX 13) - Your workouts could be getting a lot less political if you go to a particular gym. Life Time Fitness has announced it's removing cable network news from its facilities around the country, including one in the Tampa area.
The idea is less politics, less negativity.
Starting this month, there will be no more channels like FOX News Channel, CNN, or MSNBC on the large TV screens at their gyms.
In a statement, the company said, "This was based on many member requests received over time across the country, and in keeping with our overall healthy way of life philosophy and commitment to provide family-oriented environments free of consistently negative or politically charged content."
"Local news station affiliates are still on our large screens. As well, we have Wi-Fi throughout our clubs so members can view the content of their choice on their own devices, and at most (and this currently is being expanded clubs), members have the option to watch any channel, including the national cable news outlets, on cardio machines equipped with personal viewing screens."
Life Time members weighed in on Twitter, some calling it the "Best decision they've ever made," others calling it "censorship."
Member Irene Kistler Tweeted a video at the company, saying, "Don't be afraid of democracy. Put the news back on. Banning the news is really kind of un-American."
USF professor and political expert Dr. Susan McManus said that all the political and ideological polarization is certainly a sign of the times, and, not necessarily a good one.
"From airports to gyms to doctor's offices, everywhere you go, if you only have one television set and one station, you're bound to have controversy," McManus said. "You don't really gain a better understanding on people unless you listen to different viewpoints. It doesn't mean you have to agree with it. The idea that it's your way or the highway is really kind of disturbing."
At Powerhouse Gym on West Hillsborough Avenue in Tampa, there's no policy for any of its 22 TVs.
"We have your ESPN, your news, your cable," said owner/operator John Sanguinetti. "If members want to come up and request a certain channel or station, we absolutely are more than happy to change it for them."
Member Chris Peek watches the TVs when he does cardio. "The news, unfortunately, doesn't get me going. Sorry, guys," Peek laughed.
Well, to each his own. But, he doesn't mind if someone else has it on.
"If there's a really good sports game or something on, that gets me going," Peek said.
Life Time Fitness senior director of public relations Natalie Bushaw emphasized that the company is "not against news delivered accurately and respectfully, and we intend to continue to have appropriate news channels on some of our large screens."
She continued, "It always is our goal to meet the vast majority of members’ expressed requests and we believe this change is consistent with the desires of the overall membership as well as our desire to uphold a positive, healthy way of life environment.”