Gym Box Slammed For 'Mocking' #MeToo By Suggesting Thai Boxing Will Deal With Your 'Sleazy Boss'

The ad is the latest in a history of controversial marketing ploys by the company.
HuffPost UK

An advert for Gym Box has been accused of “mocking” the #MeToo campaign for suggesting people should learn Muay Thai to deal with sexual harassment.

The ad, which is plastered on billboards and the front of some of the chain’s gyms, features a step-by-step guide for customers, which reads: Sleazy boss -> Gym Box -> Muay Thai -> #Knee_to.

A billboard featuring the ad was originally tweeted by Gal-dem journalist Moya Lothian-Mclean. “Are you kidding me? Gymbox advertising themselves by saying if you get sexually harassed at work... go work out,” she tweeted.

HuffPost UK visited our local Gym Box in Holborn, London, to see the enormous ad covering one side of the building.

Julian Norman, from women’s rights group FiLiA, told HuffPost UK she believes the ad campaign “mocks” #MeToo.

“While these adverts are no doubt meant to be tongue in cheek, they assume that a sleazy boss is a fact of life and remedied by physical violence – illegal, for anyone tempted. The answer to sleazy bosses is a shift away from predatory sexual culture, the type of culture shift prompted by the #MeToo campaign this advert mocks,” she said.

The ad that references #MeToo at Gym Box, Holborn, is flanked by a second ad that references gym-goers who have a “fetish for women’s clothes”.

Gym Box
HuffPost UK
Gym Box

This is not the first time Gym Box has garnered controversy with its ads.

In 2009 the brand was investigated for leaflets that described a fitness class titled “Chav Fighting”. The ads escaped a ban. Then last year, the company was called “creepy” for telling customers to “get hot and sweaty with a teacher”.

It also raised eyebrows with an “Extinction” class, which boasted it would push gym-goers to their limit to “see if they could survive in a world plagued by irreversible climate change”.

HuffPost UK has contacted Gym Box in relation to the latest ads and is awaiting response.