I am very, very annoyed.
I have written the following letter, which I intend to send to the Executive Director, both Associate Executive Directors, and the Group Exercise Director. My goals here are twofold:
1. Blister their ears so badly their hair catches fire.
2. Effect immediate policy change.
I consider 2 less likely, so I'll settle for 1 if I have to.
Have a look. See if you can spot any ways it could be improved towards either of those goals. Also, do you think I should have my doctor countersign the letter or at least review the paragraph she's in, or is that just playing into their hands? Furthermore, while I'm planning to e-mail each director a separate personally-addressed copy, should I mail four physical copies as well or just one? If just one, does "Dear Directors:" work as a salutation?
About a month ago, I attended one of your yoga classes with a friend of mine who is a YMCA member. My friend recommended that I try the prenatal yoga class, which she found very helpful during her own recent pregnancy. This past Sunday, I attempted to do just that, only to discover that you require a note of consent from a doctor for any pre- or post-natal specific classes. While I understand that it is recommended for any person beginning a new exercise program to consult with a physician, applying this requirement to pregnant women only is patronizing, discriminatory, and unacceptable.
My obstetrician is not a yoga instructor. She is no more qualified to assess the medical appropriateness of this particular physical activity than that of any other physical activity in which I engage: walking my dog, bicycling to work, or visiting a climbing gym twice a week. My doctor has shared with me the particular concerns of pregnancy as it relates to exercise; the signs that indicate a particular activity might need to be modified, reduced, or eliminated; and her opinion that I should “keep doing what [I’m] doing.” I am entirely capable of determining whether my participation in a given physical activity is safe, healthy, or comfortable. As a legal adult, my decisions about what to do with my body—including how or whether to stretch, exercise, or move about—are entirely my own. Requiring the consent of another adult, as though I were a third-grader on a field trip, is infantilizing and degrading.
If you have concerns about the safety of your program or your legal liability, presenting me with an informational pamphlet or a liability waiver such as the one you had me sign before the general yoga class would have been appropriate. Requiring all participants in your group exercise program to affirm that they have discussed the effect of their chosen program of exercise on their personal medical conditions with a physician would be ridiculous overkill, but at least it would be consistent, non-discriminatory overkill. Requiring not only such an affirmation, but the actual consent of a third party, from any subset of the population is treating that subpopulation as less than adult, less than legally competent, and less than equal.
This discriminatory policy should be eliminated immediately. My pregnancy in no way changes my status as a competent, decision-making adult. Over the next few years, if all goes well, I will sign all manner of permission slips and consent forms for the child I am currently carrying. Requiring me to secure a third party’s permission for any personal activity reduces me to the status of a child incapable of evaluating a situation or making a decision. This is simply unacceptable.
I would be glad to attend your programs when I hear that you have changed your policies to consider all legal adults equally competent to make their own decisions. Until then, my active lifestyle and I will support other businesses and organizations.