A popular fitness chain has apologised over claims of "body shaming" after sending an email to customers asking if they were "feeling fat and fugly".
An F45 Training studio, reported to be in central London, sent out the email to its mailing list to promote an eight week challenge, which takes place from July 22 to September 15.
It said the programme can help customers whose "weight has started to creep up," and whose "clothes are feeling tight and uncomfortable."
Underneath a picture of a man and a woman in sportswear, the email also said: "Feeling fat and fugly?"
The word fugly comes from merging the words "f******" and "ugly".
@F45Training who in your marketing team approved this email?? I’ve always thought F45 promoted exercise to feel great and build confidence, not body shame people into joining? So, so disappointing.#bodyshaming #f45 pic.twitter.com/f7lFdjefgZ— Florence Halliwell (@flohalliwell)16 July 2019
The email said: "Don't worry you are not alone! We all go through these moments in life in which we let ourselves go and need a little help getting back into shape.
"If your weight has started to creep up! Your clothes are feeling tight and uncomfortable! Or you just feel a bit (or a lot) out of shape!
Wow thanks for the “inspiration” @F45Training Really love your sessions and was contemplating signing up monthly with my partner, after doing a 2 week trial. Defo not now... if I’m overweight I’m FUGLY? Good one 🙄 #f45 pic.twitter.com/ibjLoRclOv— carrie goode (@carrieeegoode)17 July 2019
"We can help! You do not have to be fit to join us!"
Horrified customers took to social media to slam the message as "body shaming" and "hateful".
Florence Halliwell wrote: "@F45Training who in your marketing team approved this email??
"I've always thought F45 promoted exercise to feel great and build confidence, not body shame people into joining? So, so disappointing."
Dr Joshua Wolrich also shared the email to Instagram with the message: "I'm lost for words how you think this is an acceptable email to send your mailing list.
Fitspo culture exploits people’s insecurities and vulnerabilities around their bodies for its own selfish profit. It doesn’t care about health or wellbeing. It doesn’t care that this kind of message incites eating disorders, body image distortion, depression and weight stigma. https://t.co/L5st727cBl— Maxine Ali (MSc) (@maxineali_)17 July 2019
"I am honestly disgusted."
Another commenter wrote: "They are manipulating people's feelings for their gain (by way of getting people to sign up)".
— Flora Beverley (@F_F_Flora)17 July 2019
EA circuits wrote: "As a trainer, I'm disgusted by the ploy of feeding off people's insecurities, vulnerabilities, anxieties when promoting exercises. Its vile!"
The fitness chain has now apologised and replied to several people on social media in response to the complaints.
The statement said: "F45 deeply cares about inclusivity and does not tolerate body shaming in any form.
"It has come to our attention that one of our studios sent an email that was not in line with our company values, and for that we are deeply sorry.
"We are working with our franchisees to ensure this doesn't happen again and that F45 always maintains and open welcoming environment for every single member."
F45, which launched in Australia, is short for Functional 45.
In March this year, it was reported that there were 1,500 studios and 6 million F45 members around the world.
The first opened in the UK in 2017. There are now more than 35, with another 50 due to open this year alone.
The Standard has contacted F45 for comment.