A woman whose Les Mills membership was axed after she was accused of defecating on the floor of a disabled bathroom has complained to the Human Rights Commission.

The woman, whom didn't want to be named, told the Herald she laid a complaint with the commission after ongoing issues at Wellington's Taranaki St Les Mills.

She said she was falsely accused of pooing on the floor by gym staff, who used her Crohn's disease - inflammatory disease of the bowel - as evidence against her.

But on the day of the alleged defecation incident, she said she couldn't access the bathroom as it was already out of order.


Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn's, cause chronic inflammation in the digestive tract, with symptoms including abdominal pain, malnutrition, fatigue and severe diarrhoea.

Around 15,000 kiwis are affected by IBD according to the Ministry of Health.

The woman is sharing her story to give a voice to those with the disease.

"I'm speaking up for all the people with Crohn's and IBD that may be discriminated against because of these issues."

Crohn's sufferers already go through enough, she said.

"I am a very active person with Crohn's, but i know people with Crohn's that just stay at home to be next to the bathroom."

Les Mills National head of club operations, Brett Sutton, said in a statement to the Herald, "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."

An ex-Les Mills member says the gym falsely accused her of defecating on the floor of a disabled bathroom. Photo / 123RF
An ex-Les Mills member says the gym falsely accused her of defecating on the floor of a disabled bathroom. Photo / 123RF

The longtime Les Mills member believes she has been discriminated against because of her health condition, but says she didn't realise she was being bullied at first.

"It wasn't until I stepped back and realised what was happening, that I realised that's what it was.

"I tried so hard to meet all of these demands and then I realised that it wasn't actually reasonable."

In March, she agreed to only access one of the two unisex disabled bathrooms at the gym after ongoing issues with management who told her that her toilet habits risked infection to other members.

But the bathrooms, found on the first and fourth floor of the gym, were often in use and she would have to run to the nearby cafe to go to the toilet.

Another member, who was transgender, and a wheelchair-bound man, were put in the position of waiting for the disabled bathroom to be free after her.

"These people should take priority over me using the disabled bathroom, I can use any toilet," she said.

"I'm not disabled, I have a medical condition."

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The member had also been told that she was to wear a towel at all times when walking from the showers to the changing area, so she wouldn't "risk infection" to others.

"They're saying that they're not being discriminatory, but then were saying I had to wear a towel at all times to prevent infection.

"How does that have anything to do with my Crohn's disease?"

The stress of months of the ongoing drama exacerbated her Crohn's symptoms and she suffered a flare-up causing acid reflux, diarrhoea and eating issues, she said.

"I did everything that I felt I could with my condition, to be reasonable, and I felt Iike they did everything they could to make it difficult for me."

Her membership was terminated in October for health and safety reasons, after she was accused of defecating on the floor of one of the unisex disabled bathrooms.

She credited friends Katy Young and Tanya Palmer, who cancelled their memberships in solidarity, for helping her through the months of problems at the gym.

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

The woman has since joined another gym where she continues to exercise regularly.