Four Gold’s Gyms in San Francisco, Oakland, and Marin have cut ties with the Gold’s Gym franchise after the discovery of donations to anti-gay Super PACs made by the fitness club’s CEO.
In 2010, Robert Rowling, the CEO of Gold’s Gym, donated $2 million to American Crossroads. The organization was created by Karl Rove and former Republican National Committee Chair Ed Gillespie.
Though the American Crossroads organization is largely focusing on issues concerning the economy now, they have also been responsible for the funding of notoriously anti-gay politicians.
When Rowling’s 2010 donation was discovered, the four Gold’s Gyms in the Bay Area - owned collectively by Don Dickerson - released a statement condemning the donation and vowing to disenfranchise from the fitness conglomerate as soon as their contract expired.
Now, with the deadline for the gyms’ contract up, the Bay Area Gold’s Gyms have officially disenfranchised from the Gold’s Gym brand. Their new name is Fitness SF. New signs and branding have already replaced the former Gold’s Gym logos.
At the time of the 2010 expose, Gold’s Gym released a statement saying they did not affiliate with Rowling’s private donation and that, “the Gold's Gym family has been strong supporters of the LGBT community over the years. Gold's Gym is a non-political organization and our member's dues are not used to fund political candidates. Bob Rowling, the CEO of our ownership group, TRT Holdings, made a private donation completely independent from (and not on behalf of) Gold's Gym.”
Despite the public disconnect from Rowling’s donations, the Bay Area gyms have dropped the brand.
Dickerson told a local CBS news outlet that, "Very rarely in a situation like this does a business stand up and actually take a position on the matter, which is why I think people have been so happy that we've taken this course of action.”