x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Gym owner in charity pledge over Nazi images

The owner of a fitness centre who used images of a Nazi concentration camp to advertise weight loss services says he will donate all revenue from this weekend's classes to a good cause.

DUBAI // The owner of a fitness centre who sparked outrage by using images of a Nazi concentration camp to advertise weight loss services says he will donate all revenue from this weekend's classes to a good cause.

Phil Parkinson, the British founder of Circuit Factory in Al Quoz, this week posted a series of promotional images on the internet, including a photograph of the Auschwitz II-Birkenau camp with the slogan: "Kiss your calories goodbye."

Within hours he had removed four of the 10 images and apologised.

"We have contacted a Holocaust charity in the UK, but were told they are privately funded so they are helping us to find a suitable charity we can send the money to," Mr Parkinson said yesterday.

He said the money would be donated as soon as the charity had been identified, adding: "We wanted this donation to go to people who actually need the money."

Mr Parkinson admitted that the club had experienced an increase in interest following the campaign.

"I think what happened was that people Googled our name after the story came out and when they got onto the site they saw videos of genuine people from Dubai talking about how much we have helped them. I know some people have said this was a cynical publicity stunt but that couldn't be further from the truth."

Other images posted on Tuesday and later removed included a poster depicting a toilet full of faeces, accompanied by the word "bootcamps".

Another showed men doing press-ups, with the caption: "Saving Dubai from s**t like this". Another was a poster of four scantily dressed women that proclaimed: "Are you a fat s**g? Just be a s**g."

A storm of protest erupted on Facebook and Twitter, where criticism of the images ranged from "tasteless" to "despicable".

Circuit Factory was established two years ago. It runs group exercise classes and employs five trainers.

nhanif@thenational.ae