Woman banned from gym for drawing Star of David on glass panel with finger

Woman has gym membership frozen after a complaint was made


Sharon, a frequent gymgoer, who drew a Star of David on a steamed-up shower door at Nuffield Gym

A gym has frozen the membership of a Jewish woman who drew a Star of David on a steamed up glass door in a changing room shower, the JC can reveal.

The gym, run by Nuffield Health, accused the woman of “offending” other members with the Jewish symbol.

Sharon, a 47-year-old British-Israeli, has been going to Nuffield Health in Willesden for ten years and was showering after a class when she drew the star in the mist with her finger.

“I drew it while I was taking a shower, I just felt like it,” Sharon told the JC.

Another gym-goer apparently saw the temporary Star of David on the shower glass and made a complaint about it.

On Wednesday, Sharon, a Senior Executive Assistant, received an email from the gym which stated: “The allegation is that you drew a religious symbol on a shower door, which was visible to all other members using the changing room and drawn with the intention of causing offence to other members."

The general manager asked Sharon to attend a meeting so that the gym could “hear both sides of the story”.

The email came 20 days after Sharon was first informed of the complaint.

On 8 February, Sharon was asked to attend the meeting to discuss a claim against her which, at that point, she had no knowledge of.

She asked to be told what the “serious allegation” was and told manager in an email: “We no longer live in 1930s - 1940s fascist Italy or Nazi Germany”. She decided not to attend the meeting.  

The manager proceeded to tell Sharon that her email was “seriously offensive” and put her membership “on hold”.

It was not until 28 February that Nuffield put the allegation in writing and told Sharon what she had been accused of: “You drew a religious symbol on a shower door”.

In their email to her, the gym said that the Star of David had been drawn “with the intention of causing offence”.

“How can a Star of David offend anyone?” Sharon told the JC, “It’s not a danger to anyone and I’m not a danger.”

The British-Israeli who has reported the incident to the police, is seeking legal advice.

"I want to tell them, you’re not the Gestapo, you’re a health club,” she said. “It’s like a fascist society,” she added.

Sharon said she has been made to feel like a “criminal” and has not been able to use the gym since the initial complaint was made, despite continuing to pay her membership fees.

“The person who reported me keeps going to the gym, but I've been excluded from the community deliberately.”

Sharon has several friends at the gym, where she has enjoyed working out for a decade: “I’m well-known there”, she said.

However, “They might know I’m Israeli, it could be related,” she went on.

Sharon was talking about the conflict in the changing rooms on the day the complaint was made.

“I said to my friend – who knew I was upset – that I didn’t want a ceasefire unless the hostages were all released.”

Sharon and her friend were talking for at least 30 minutes in the changing room, and she wondered if the complainant heard the conversation.

Whatever the outcome of her membership freeze, Sharon does not plan on going back to Nuffield anytime soon. “I might just do long walks in the evenings,” she said.

A Nuffield Health spokesperson said:

“There has been an allegation from one of our members that they experienced intimidating behaviour while using our facilities at Brondesbury Fitness and Wellbeing Centre. We’re committed to championing a culture of equality, diversity, inclusion and respect for each other’s beliefs across all of our connected fitness, wellbeing and healthcare services. We take all allegations of potential intimidating behaviour very seriously and we are thoroughly investigating this.”

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive