The Anti-Gym was a fitness center in downtown Denver, Colorado, operating circa 2006 to 2009. The gym advertised an idealized style of "work hard, play hard" fitness training and corresponding lifestyle changes.
Training and diet
The gym's owner, Michael Karolchyk, and his trainers would use bullhorns to shout insults at the people who were paying for physical training, similar to the way military drill instructors shape up new recruits with "tough love." Karolchyk, employing some reverse psychology and appealing to cognitive dissonance, didn't care if people hated him or not. His goal was to get people to hate themselves, and then maybe they'll go to the gym and work out. Karolchyk's unorthodox approach made him a minor celebrity, particularly among the anti-vegetarians, even earning him an interview on Fox News with Neil Cavuto[note 1] to discuss whether Obama-nominated Regina Benjamin was too fat to be U.S. Surgeon General.
Commercials for the gym were similarly insulting. One showed a plump woman on the couch crying into her Häagen-Dazs® while her boyfriend left to go have a fun night on the town with several slim, blonde female companions. Then Karolchyk would appear, insult her, and tell her it's her own damned fault that she's fat and alone.
The gym had an atmosphere more indicative of a club, complete with attractive dancing girls in cages and live DJs mixing house music. It included a hot tub specifically reserved for those who put in what the trainers considered to be good effort – to be shared with the good-looking employees.
The gym also promoted a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet, saying that after all that effort, a big juicy steak and a large martini were a fair reward. The local neighborhood, replete with steakhouses, sushi restaurants, seafood eateries and trendy bars, benefited from the promotion of such ideas, as did likely the gym, since the diets they pushed further facilitated continued memberships.
Karolchyk himself promoted some rather chauvinist and heteronormative ideas. One was that women should not be above resorting to plastic surgery, liposuction or breast implants in order to make themselves more attractive to men, in the event that diet and exercise don't work.
In addition to the constant verbal beatings, the trainers would take their members out into the street to stage walking "protests." The members would march up and down the streets of downtown Denver, Cherry Creek North and other locations, such as local ice cream parlors, carrying signs and shouting slogans as clever as "No Chubbies!" "Have Sex With The Lights On," and "Put Down The Fork!". The trainers would also use their bullhorns to call out people who appeared out of shape and insult them for being lazy and/or diabetic.
As one can imagine, the gym drew quite a bit of fire from local media. The gym was also roundly criticized by local feminists for promoting idealized concepts of women's bodies, as well as fat acceptance activists for obvious reasons.
The gym closed after about three years in business, blaming problems with the IRS involving payroll taxes. After it closed, a local news team found dossiers in a nearby dumpster containing details about members' personal lives, such as affairs and drug use. One can infer that the only need for such detailed files would be for blackmail, but no allegations of such improprieties were ever brought forward, and the documents have since been destroyed.
Karolchyk, while acknowledging his tax problems, rationalized the closing of the gym by saying that maybe his concepts just weren't appreciated in Colorado and maybe better suited for southern California—an interesting assertion, considering that the business didn't close because it was having trouble staying afloat. He moved to San Diego in 2010 but has only been heard from on occasional Fox News and Fox affiliate broadcasts, and there is no word of a new gym.
The good (if you can call it that)
Despite his insults, unorthodox style and questionable behaviors, Karolchyk does occasionally get it right, usually by saying that a proper diet and exercise are essential to a long and healthful life (though this is undermined by the diet woo mentioned above). In 2011, he was vocal in his distaste for the KFC "Double Down" chicken sandwich for its obvious problems. Of course, still going chauvinistic, he did so by saying that KFC should be renamed CFC—"Creating Fat Chicks."
- The irony in Neil Cavuto discussing whether or not an individual is too fat to hold a position should not be lost on you.
- "Denver No Chubbies? Fat Chance", westword.com
-  (Interview occurred after Karolchyk's gym closed)
- "Is Regina Benjamin too fat to be Surgeon General, salon.com
- The Anti-Gym, forever closed, yet still immortalized by the internet for all to enjoy
- "Media outlets line up to pummel Anti-Gym's Michael Karolchyk", westword.com
- Clients' Personal Information Found In Trash, shred-king.com