Military and Police

California Fitness Company Embraces First Responders After Hate-Filled Atlanta Gym Denies Access to Hometown Heroes

“We believe in everyone’s right to becoming the best version of themselves, regardless of their race, gender, sexual orientation, occupational calling or otherwise.” 

After a frenzy of media attention recently honed in on EAV Barbell Club in Atlanta, Georgia and its proprietor’s anti-police and anti-military stance, we learn that all is not lost in love and war. A counter-perspective evolves from health line marketer Six Pack Fitness (6PF) in Oakland, California. From roughly 2,467 miles away, the proprietorship at 6PF took note of the denouncement of cops and soldiers by EAV Barbell Club owner Jim Chambers and decided to transform a blatant negative into an absolute positive.

Via its press release, 6PF slated $40,000 of its products to “help cops and youth in Atlanta stay in shape.” As 6PF’s founder Misha Breyburg explains, “The gym and sports in general are meant to bring people together. During some of the darkest times in history, athletics has given us a sense of community and renewed faith in each other.” Bingo! And that complements an olive branch offer extended by a certain policeman who thrives on bridging gaps and mending mischaracterizations.

Senior OpsLens contributor and Atlanta-area police Officer Tommy Lefever’s goal was to glove up and box EAV’s owner to not only raise charitable funds for the Police Athletic League (PAL) in Atlanta, but respectfully spar with each other so as to exemplify commonalities such as a love for boxing, to exude sportsmanship, and to co-opt camaraderie.

Officer Lefever explained his motivation: “It’s an ugly reminder of the fact that there are people out there like Chambers who view us as an ‘occupying force’ or a ‘modern day slave patrol.’ They’ll never be open to a reasonable discussion about what we do. It was then that I came up with the idea to challenge him to some fisticuffs at the 2017 Guns N Hoses Boxing Championship put on by the Atlanta Police Athletic League.”

On Fox Business, Officer Lefever expounded upon this issue and his boxing bout suggestion, hoping to arrive at an amicable accord. Lefever labels this scenario a “provocative story” and intends to turn it into a victory for the benefit of inner-city children.

For his part, Mr. Chambers said, “We don’t need police officers!” to Fox Business reporter Elizabeth MacDonald, explaining his denial of cops and military is because “certain groups are under greater risk statistically in the presence of law enforcement and…some of those folks are in our gym and quite frankly most of the people in our gym just don’t feel comfortable around the police.”

Fox Business reporter MacDonald pointed out to Chambers “that there are a lot of minority police officers, right, and they step in and they put themselves on the line to protect people like you from crime, right?” And that demographic factor has come up amply throughout this standoffish protest by Mr. Chambers. What about minority cops and soldiers?

Challengers Bringing Resolution

Senior OpsLens contributor Tommy Lefever stepped up and respectfully challenged the EAV Barbell owner to enter the ring and box their way to a mutual understanding with a resolute charitable dividend: raise funds for the well-being of children in the Atlanta metro area whose role models are police officers dedicating personal time to build up youth often held back by counterproductive conditions. It is a force multiplier with far-reaching dividends.

Six Pack Fitness is located in a city whose police force has had some disharmonious episodes in its jurisdiction, not unlike many others. Policing is not an easy task. And that very factor emphasizes how an entity can do plenty of good despite the bruises its community sustained historically. The words moving forward are not valueless vowels and consonants. They distinctly telegraph overcoming adversity, embracing mutual understanding, and striving for formidable workmanship at a time when waxing cynical is easy.

Workmanship: that moniker that exclusively defines a perfect product shaped by hands that may have sustained some blows and jabs yet stayed in the ring, overcoming adversity while keeping the feet shuffling along. Those hands do not draw back to an age or era defined by bad blood. Nope. Like a boxer who steps into the ring, workmanship implores advances in maneuvering and mutual respect for what the other boxer brings to the table—a sharing of sorts. To deny that is akin to turning a cheek to personal growth.

There is always a mutual exchange waiting to be seized, providing folks are not self-blinded by useless tactics like misplaced condemnation.

Cross-referencing happens every minute in every health and fitness arena. Some have trainers on staff to share trends and insights. Other health clubs and facilities honor an open outlet whereby patrons show each other what works best for them. Spotting sound familiar? You may even towel off and leave with virtuous muscle: friendship.

Via its press release, 6PF slated $40,000 of its products to “help cops and youth in Atlanta stay in shape.”

Supplanting “Are you a cop?” with “How do you do that?” makes for a prosperous outcome. The only universal uniform is that of comfortable athletic attire/gear.

Six Pack Fitness’s core philosophy is: “We believe in everyone’s right to becoming the best version of themselves, regardless of their race, gender, sexual orientation, occupational calling or otherwise.” Cheers to that!

Speculations

Analyzing the baby steps behind EAV Barbell owner’s obscenity-laden invective on a crudely constructed sign posted with basic tape, it dawns that he must have a crystal ball or some magic fairy dust to somehow determine who entering his gym is a police officer and/or military member. Cops universally—and understandably, given the anarchists roaming the world—do not present themselves with advertisements on their chests or billboards on their personal vehicles. Therefore, how does a gym owner determine a cop or soldier he does not want in his establishment?

He doesn’t.

It is purely for the exposure. To blossom his business. He revels in certain attention. Perhaps there is something nefarious afoot. Psychology informs us that such matters typically stem from a personal insecurity or two or three.

Six Pack Fitness founder Misha Breyburg said, “Prior to this statement from this less than ‘open’ gym owner, I have always thought of any gym, box, or dojo as a place where it didn’t matter who you were in the outside world. It was a place you came and left it all out with sweat, blood, and guts!” That’s as healthy a message from a health line producer anyone can hope for.

For Chambers to suggest his “minority” clientele are discomfited by police officers or soldiers is laughable, baseless, and utterly disjointed from logic and reality. Those same “minority” clients must also have a crystal ball or special wands in their workout duffels to somehow detect those dedicated to public service and preservations of freedom for which they fought and cater to everyone, minorities included.

Reacting to EAV Barbell’s “No f*%king cops” sign, Vincent Champion, an Atlanta policeman and southeastern director of the International Brotherhood of Police Officers, told 11Alive News, “I don’t understand why you’d put a sign like that up at all. Without talking to the man, this appears to be hate for law enforcement and for what reason? Are you doing something illegal?”

Despite EAV Barbell’s hate-spewed message, Champion trumpeted police sentiments: “We will do our job. We’ve taken that job to serve and protect and we will do that no matter what you think of us.”

“Painting any group with one brush, including the police and the military, goes against the very principles that built this great country,” echoed Gera Rivkin, Six Pack Fitness CEO. To catapult on Mr. Rivkin’s analogy, it appears Mr. Chambers is painting with a mop—an impure one.

That statement is synonymous to what another public service-supporting CEO stated. The Silent Partner Marketing agency’s Kyle Reyes boasted recently, “Our team at The Silent Partner Marketing stands firmly behind the men and women of our country who protect and serve. We believe that the thin blue line they represent is what keeps law and order and protects our families, our businesses and our nation.”

“As our humble contribution to police departments, we are pledging to donate up to $500,000 worth of video production over the next year to help share their stories. As marketers, it’s the job of our team at The Silent Partner Marketing to tell the stories behind brands and people. We are blessed to be an extraordinarily successful agency…but with success comes responsibility. It’s our responsibility to stand behind those who keep us all safe and allow our businesses and our families to thrive.”

Mr. Reyes makes an excellent point in that last sentence, which, for purposes particularly related to EAV Barbell and Officer Lefever, is suitably worthy of mentioning here: Officer Lefever used to be assigned the beat in which EAV Barbell is located. Irony and fate? Yep. The truth was right outside EAV Barbell doors, rolling by to protect the establishment and preserve its owner’s and invitees’ freedoms.

Calling All Karma

I believe in karmic instances. Endemically, EAV Barbell’s patronage may even benefit from the ridiculous dustup caused by the gym’s owner. How so? As our nation has witnessed amply lately, haters gravitate to other haters. As one commentator wrote trailing a Fox News report of EAV Barbell’s stance, “This guy is a hero and people should rush to this gym because this guy has a heart.” The remainder of that individual’s comment points out that all cops are murderers.

And that is the jaded, misguided mindset Officer Lefever alluded to when interviewed via Fox Business. It is also the inherent purpose for why he invited Mr. Chambers in the ring—to expose the truth and be victorious over overt prejudice.

With police excluded, when two or more haters get into it among themselves, guess who’ll be there to sort it all out? Oh, the irony of it all! Darkness eventually bathes in light.

The fault of EAV Barbell becomes the default by which Six Pack Fitness justly garners the applause and praises for casting light where others throw shade, opening its heart and arms, extending its entrepreneurial spirit from the west coast to the east…landing in the laps of Atlanta cops and the Boys/Girls Club of Atlanta.

Further, Six Pack Fitness is not holding back on its view of first responders, sweetening their offer as follows: “Our hope is that this small token of support will help bring the community together again, where they can inspire and uplift one another, instead of tearing each other down. We would also like to challenge any gym in Atlanta to offer a few free memberships and we will give them that same value in fitness bags.”

How’s that for righting a wrong?

As of this writing, EAV Barbell owner Jim Chambers is seemingly disinterested in taking up the boxing match posed by Officer Lefever. In a TV interview a few days ago, Chambers was asked by a news reporter if he was inclined to accept Lefever’s boxing bout. His answer was a cheap-shot in and of itself: he wanted to know if it would be a fair fight. That answer alone does not deserve dignifying. It exemplifies one who apparently has the conviction to make grotesque and incendiary statements while missing the moxie to back up the words scrawled on a make-shift sign openly taped to a gym door.

Bottom line? Six Pack Fitness’ business conduct is about inclusion. With succinct sentiments, Officer Lefever says, “Ultimately, what it comes down to is this: I’ll take a punch or ten to raise money for Atlanta’s underprivileged kids. Hell, I’d take a bullet for one of them if I had to. It’s my job.”

EAV Barbell’s Jim Chambers excludes cops and military and declines a soft-gloved boxing bout. But…how does anyone not want a guy like Lefever around?

Stephen Owsinski

Stephen Owsinski is a Senior OpsLens Contributor and retired law enforcement officer whose career included assignments in the Uniformed Patrol Division and Field Training Officer (FTO) unit. He is currently a researcher and writer. Follow Stephen on Twitter @uniformblue.

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