PureGym Faces Backlash as CEO’s Comments Spark Calls for Boycott

Pure Gym Kingsway
Photo of Pure Gym Kingsway. Photo taken by: Cariss Raybone

In a recent episode of BBC’s Question Time, PureGym CEO Humphrey Cobbold found himself caught up in controversy after expressing support for the sale of arms to Israel.

Cobbold’s remarks, which have since ignited a firestorm on social media, have led to a wave of customer backlash and calls for a boycott of the popular fitness chain.

The uproar stems from Cobbold’s response to a question posed by host Fiona Bruce regarding the UK government’s stance on supplying weapons to Israel.

While acknowledging his deep concern over the situation in Gaza, where thousands have perished in Israel’s bombardment, Cobbold stopped short of advocating for arms restraint.

Instead, he referenced the United States’ approach and suggested that the UK’s arms shipments to Israel were relatively minor compared to those of the US.

However, Cobbold’s apparent indifference to the situation of Palestinians and his tacit support for the arms trade with Israel struck a nerve with many PureGym customers.

On social media platforms, outraged individuals wasted no time in voicing their disapproval and calling for action.

Numerous users took to X, formerly known as Twitter, and other platforms to share their decision to cancel their PureGym memberships in protest.

One user tweeted, “I have cancelled my @PureGym membership because their CEO is pro-genocide. To all my followers: please cancel your membership and join another gym.”

Another post echoed similar sentiments, urging fellow gym-goers to cut ties with PureGym and join the budding boycott movement.

The hashtag #BoycottPureGym quickly gained traction online as individuals organise to distance themselves from the fitness chain.

Photo of neon sign at Pure Gym Kingsway
Photo of neon sign at Pure Gym Kingsway. Photo taken by Cariss Raybone

Sarah Johnson, a former employee of PureGym who resigned in protest following Cobbold’s comments, expressed her disappointment with the company’s leadership.

“I could no longer align myself with a company whose CEO has views that disregard human rights and perpetuate violence,” Johnson stated.

“PureGym’s failure to take a principled stand on this issue compelled me to take action and leave the organisation.”

Meanwhile, Alex Smith, a university student and former PureGym member, shared his decision to switch to JD Gym in light of the controversy.

“As a student, I believe it’s important to support businesses that uphold values of empathy and compassion,” Smith remarked.

“PureGym’s CEO’s comments were deeply troubling, and I felt compelled to take my membership elsewhere.”

As the UK government faces mounting pressure to reevaluate its arms sales policies considering the escalating conflict in Gaza, businesses like PureGym find themselves thrust into the spotlight for their perceived complicity.

In response to the backlash, PureGym issued a statement affirming its commitment to diversity, inclusivity, and corporate responsibility.

However, the damage to its reputation and bottom line may prove challenging to repair as disgruntled customers continue to voice their discontent and actively support the boycott movement.

Only time will tell how the company navigates this crisis and whether it can regain the trust and support of its once-loyal customer base.