Rochester fitness club turns off cable news in the name of health

It was a puzzling moment for me a few years ago at Mayo Clinic when I walked into a waiting room, only to see Fox News on the TV. You either love the channel or hate it — just like MSNBC.

But it’s inarguable that businesses who insist on a channel for political partisans risk alienating customers who are not of that faith. Businesses taking sides seems bad for business.

That’s why 125 Live, the senior fitness center in Rochester, is turning off Fox News and CNN, MedCity Beat reports.

“My goal is to have friendly and inviting community center,” said Sylwia Bujak Oliver, executive director of 125 Live. “It’s like with music. Some people like to come to 125 Live because there is peace and quiet and some would like music. Therefore we encourage those to wear headphones and do whatever brings them joy, without affecting others.

“That is what I decided to do with the news stations. Just have complimentary tablets for rent, so people can watch whatever channel they choose without upsetting anyone or forcing others to watch it as well in the common areas.”

The Rochester Post-Bulletin reports the switch was made when a woman was verbally assaulted for switching one of the TVs from a news channel.

“She didn’t like to watch those channels,” Oliver told the PB. “She didn’t like politics and tried to switch it. She thought nobody was around but it turned out that somebody was.”

Member Tom Dillhunt told the paper he knows how that happens. He was having a political discussion about something on the TV with another member when the conversation went south.

“He was a big guy, and he would have started swinging if not for the intervention of an alert staff member,” Dillhunt said.

Political cable news channels are inconsistent with the goal of fitness clubs.

“I’ve gone from three (blood pressure) pills to one. I needed to control my blood pressure,” member Paul Ray told the Post-Bulletin about turning off the TV a few years ago.

“By just having that divisive stuff in front of me, regardless of which side you’re on, it’s very inflammatory,” he said. “When Sylwia announced the decision, I sent her an email. You own a health club for people to get healthy and watching that stuff is just the opposite.”

Oliver said member response has been mostly positive.

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