Friends of a Wellington gymgoer accused of defecating on the floor at a Les Mills gym say the woman had been bullied by gym staff.

The woman, who didn't want to be named, told Stuff she was falsely accused of defecating on the floor of a disabled bathroom by gym staff who used her Crohn's disease - inflammatory disease of the bowel - as evidence.

After ongoing problems with a staff member at Wellington's Taranaki St Les Mills about her bathroom habits, the woman had agreed she would use only the two unisex disabled bathrooms and would clean up afterwards.

But friends Katy Young and Tanya Palmer told the Herald the bathroom incident was just an example of bullying their friend had suffered.


The pair got involved when Palmer found the woman "absolutely distraught" at the gym one day.

She'd been told she needed to have a meeting with a manager and was anxious about what would happen, Palmer said.

Palmer said the woman, a long-time member, had been told at previous meetings her bathroom habits posed a health and safety risk and that there had been complaints about her behaviour.

She was told the cleaner had complained about the mess made in the bathroom and others had complained about noises she'd make in the toilet.

The woman's Les Mills membership was terminated when staff accused her of defecating on the floor of one of the disabled bathrooms.

"At no stage did they ever produce any actual evidence," Palmer said.

Palmer and Young, who were Les Mills members for 35 years collectively, both cancelled their memberships in response.

Les Mills National head of club operations Brett Sutton, in a statement to the Herald, said "there are two sides to every story, but as we believe a complaint has been filed with the Human Rights Commission, we are unable at this stage to comment further on this individual case.


"This is a very sensitive subject and ending anyone's membership is not something we take lightly. Les Mills has a strict health and safety policy and we are obliged at all times to consider the health, safety and welfare of all our members."

Friends say the woman was a victim of bullying at Taranaki St Les Mills. Photo / 123RF
Friends say the woman was a victim of bullying at Taranaki St Les Mills. Photo / 123RF

Palmer said the woman was told her habits made the toilet "an infection risk" to other members.

In March, the woman agreed to use only one of the two unisex disabled bathrooms, but Young said the bathrooms were usually occupied and the woman was forced to leave the gym to use a toilet at the next door cafe.

"She would have to go out of the gym to the cafe next door to use the toilet," she said.

The woman told Stuff her condition could make things "messy" but said the allegations made against her were nonsensical.

"The thing with my condition is, yes, it's messy, but if it was me to blame there would be blood and not poo in the middle of the floor."

Her two friends said the woman was also told she dripped too much water as she exited the shower and was causing a slip hazard, leading the woman to clean up the water droplets from the floor after every shower.

Palmer said her friend was deeply affected by what she felt was unfair treatment by Les Mills.

"They made her feel that the accusations they were making against her were fair, reasonable and needed to be upheld.

"This poor woman ended up so tortured by this that she didn't know what to do."

Greg Bruce: Undercover at cult gym Les Mills
Class goes on after man collapses at Les Mills gym
Call for guidelines around demanding fitness craze
Auckland gym's disgusting taunt at customer

Dissatisfied with how management were handling the situation, Palmer and Young sent numerous emails to Les Mills national office and chief executive Phillip Mills.

"We were careful as to what we were challenging. What we were challenging is the way that this was managed.

"We said that there was unfair, bullying and victimisation against this person and we're bringing it to your attention."

Young said Phillip Mills replied to the women, apologising for any "negative experience" they may have had at the gym but said he worked at Les Mills International, a different organisation.

At no stage did any of the management the Palmer and Young spoke to ask if the woman at the centre of the allegations was okay, they said.

Rae Nield, a lawyer representing Les Mills, told the pair the issue would not be discussed further and the woman in question could complain to the Human Rights Commission.

Palmer and Young say their friend is now in a much better space, but Young still remembered her with tears streaming down her face.

Palmer and Young have complained to the Exercise Association of New Zealand.