EXCLUSIVE: Alameda gym faces backlash over seemingly racist post about Asian massage parlors

"This is not okay."

Dion Lim Image
Saturday, February 5, 2022
EXCLUSIVE: Outrage over gym calling Asian massage parlors 'smelly'
Alameda residents are speaking out after they say a local gym owner is attacking Asian Americans with hurtful and dangerous language some call racist.

ALAMEDA, Calif. (KGO) -- Community members in Alameda are speaking out after they say a local gym owner is attacking Asian Americans with hurtful and dangerous language some call racist.

Erica Peck lives in Alameda and was one of more than a hundred commentators on a Facebook group page, discussing the way the owner of Island Personal Training described his company's massage services.

"Who is he marketing this toward? Just...UGH it makes me so mad!"

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Peck is referring to the gym's website which advertises their massage therapists "speak English...kind of rare for the field round these parts" and continues to say, they're not like "shady Asian massage parlors."

Another Facebook user who requested we only use her first name of "Jojo," says she was horrified when she saw the language.

"I was like, 'oh my god, this guy. I don't know what decade he's living in or country he's living in, and this is not okay.'"

Island Personal Training has locations in Redding and Alameda.

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ABC7 news anchor Dion Lim went to the Alameda location to speak to the owner, Jason Wilson. He appeared amenable to a conversation and said he would step outside in-between personal training appointments. Lim stepped outside and Wilson poked his head outside to say "maybe later," and shut and locked the door.

Cynthia Choi is one of the founders of STOPAAPIHate and an executive director with Chinese for Affirmative Action. She says stereotypes that Asians are subpar stokes fears and directly cause the attacks we see so often today.

"It's very triggering given what happened with the Atlanta area shooting. We're coming up on that anniversary where Asian women and Asian businesses were targeted," said Choi.

"This kind of racist rhetoric and commentary adds to the persistent stereotypes that are not only offensive but really put our communities in danger."

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After ABC7's visit to their Alameda location, the business' website appeared to be down. However, Island Personal Training's Redding location Facebook still shows posts from last May saying other massage parlors are "dirty" and "smell like Chinese food."

Jojo says she hopes speaking out will create an educational experience for all.

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"I really hope he can learn, open up and grow and become a part of the wonderful community that's here in Alameda. I'm not trying to bash anyone's business, but I want to make sure the businesses in Alameda are inclusive and not causing struggles," said Jojo.

Lim visited Island Personal Training again on Friday afternoon and made several calls. She did not hear back.