Fitness chain to change policy toward members with disabilities

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – In a legal settlement that shows one person can make a difference, the parent company of LA Fitness has agreed to change its policies statewide. Fitness International, LLC has agreed to provide accommodations for individuals with disabilities at all of its gyms across New York state.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman made the announcement Wednesday, of the settlement with the California-based fitness chain, after suing the company last year.

The case was initiated on behalf of Christopher Ciatto, 22, of Long Island, who has epilepsy, and has a personal aide who has to accompany him when he goes to the gym.

When Ciatto went to the LA Fitness near his home to work out, staff at the facility demanded a guest fee from Ciatto’s aide before Christopher was allowed to use the equipment.

Christopher’s mom Claudia Ciatto contacted the Attorney General’s office, and a lawsuit was filed, accusing the fitness chain of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act, and state law protecting individuals with disabilities.

Claudia Ciatto told News 4 by phone, without an aide present, a seizure could be life threatening for her son, “A seizure can happen at any time, at any moment, and because of that I need to keep my son safe.”

Ciatto said, personal aides for Christopher are specially trained to respond to his needs, “This is extremely important to make sure that he is observed and safe, and the people that are his support staff know exactly what to do. They have been trained what to do when he has a seizure.”

Fitness International has agreed to waive fees for the aides of its members with disabilities, train staff to implement its new policies, and even threw in a free 18-month membership for Christopher.

But Christopher’s mom said, after the rude treatment her son has received at LA Fitness, he still hasn’t decided if he even wants to go back.

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