Mpls continues contract with Life Time Fitness

Life Time does not provide benefits to employees’ domestic partners.

Ashley Aram

Unlike spouses of Life Time Fitness employees, domestic partners donâÄôt get benefits âÄî a policy that clashes with a Minneapolis ordinance.
But the city made an exemption to the rule and pays $460,400 each year for city employees, like firefighters and police, to use the fitness center. Last week, the Minneapolis City Council questioned that exemption.
âÄúIf weâÄôre going to be spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on these contracts, then we want these companies to abide by our ordinances and certain social standards that we consider so important,âÄù said Minneapolis City Councilman Cam Gordon, who voted against granting the waiver Friday.
But he was in minority, and the council voted to continue its contract with Life Time.
âÄúWe provide these services to the sworn folks who have to stay in shape to do their job,âÄù said City Council President Barbara Johnson. âÄúThat was the gym that they preferred. We had an obligation to respect their decision.âÄù
Some City Councilmembers are disappointed in the decision not to follow the ordinance. It defines domestic partners as two unrelated and unmarried adults who are committed to each other.
Domestic benefits have become widespread in the corporate world. According to the Human Rights Campaign,  an organization that advocates for equal marriage rights, more than half of Fortune 500 companies offer domestic benefits to their employers.
For Gordon, irony lies in the fact that Minneapolis canâÄôt grant the domestic partners of city employees the benefits that it expects of Life Time.
âÄúWe tried to give [domestic] benefits for city employees a while ago, but the state said we canâÄôt do that,âÄù Gordon  said.
For University of Minnesota student Sean McClay, who is a member and a former employee of Life Time, the lack of domestic benefits is hypocritical.
âÄúFor a company whose vision statement is to support a âÄòhealthy way of life companyâÄô and brand, not extending health benefits to someoneâÄôs family is pretty low,âÄù McClay  said.
Life Time was not available for comment.
FridayâÄôs decision came down to what employees wanted, Johnson said .
âÄúI had a communication from a couple of police officers, and one of them is a woman who has worked in my ward for many years,âÄù Johnson  said.
The woman, who is gay, told Johnson she felt the city should keep its contract with Life Time because it could provide the most facilities to the most people.
âÄúSheâÄôs in a committed relationship, and she didnâÄôt have a problem with it,âÄù Johnson said.
Gordon  said he hopes the challenge to the cityâÄôs contract with Life Time has at least raised some awareness.
âÄúWe missed an opportunity here, but at least it raised the issue,âÄù Gordon  said. âÄúWe need to look more carefully at some of our contracts, because we might have contracts with [other] people who donâÄôt offer that.âÄù