A self-proclaimed white nationalist was banned from a Fremont gym after the owners learned he is a leader in the alt-right community.
The owners of Northwest Fitness Project say Greg Johnson is longer welcome there.
“The trainer terminated his contract and we banned him from the gym,” said Kyle Davis, a co-owner of the gym.
It's a move that has some people wondering if it violates a city ordinance that says "Places of Public Accommodation" can't discriminate based on a person's beliefs.
But the owners of the gym say that ordinance doesn't apply -- because it’s not a public space. To use the space, you must be the client of a trainer.
“There’s no open gym membership, it's not like people can come and go as they please,” Davis said. “Trainers come and run their own businesses out of this location."
“There's a right of first refusal of the independent trainer. And he (trainer) chose to not work with him anymore due to the harm it would cause his reputation and not wanting to be associated with those views,” Davis said.
The Southern Poverty Law Center calls Greg Johnson an "international figure for white nationalism" and "one of the leading voices of the far-right."
In September 2017, the New York Times interviewed him undercover and posted it on its website.
In the interview, Johnson says, “I would identify myself as a white nationalist. That states the goals I have politically.”
When asked about people who are Jewish, Johnson says, “The solution would ultimately (be) to expel them.”
Davis says he’s disturbed to hear Johnson’s views.
“I would feel threatened, yes,” he said. “I'm converting to Judaism, my fiancée is Jewish and we want to raise our kids Jewish,” Davis said.
The owners say after Johnson was banned, a white nationalist publication told followers to post negative reviews on the gym's Yelp and Facebook pages.
“We were at a 5 (star average review); it went down to a 3,” said Matthew Holland, the other co-owner of Northwest Fitness Project.
But hundreds of people supported the gym on social media, helping it bounce back.
“Now we're to like a 4.8,” Holland said. “We have a great community and we didn't realize how awesome they all were. Going through a rough time like this, it was just so encouraging.”
The Puget Sound Anarchists first published last week that Johnson lives in Seattle. It's also how the gym owners found out about Johnson's beliefs.
KIRO7’s Deedee Sun tried to reach Johnson at his apartment but got no answer.
The gym says it hears Johnson has left the area.
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Cox Media Group