The DNAinfo archives brought to you by WNYC.
Read the press release here.

UWS Parents Say Gym Ads Too Sexy For Young Eyes

By Leslie Albrecht | February 3, 2011 12:31pm
Some parents at P.S. 87 say racy ads for Equinox gym aren't appropriate for young children to see. The ads are on street corners near several Upper West Side schools.
Some parents at P.S. 87 say racy ads for Equinox gym aren't appropriate for young children to see. The ads are on street corners near several Upper West Side schools.
View Full Caption
DNAinfo/Leslie Albrecht

By Leslie Albrecht

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

UPPER WEST SIDE — Upper West Side parents say racy ads for a luxury gym are too sexy for young kids — and they want them taken off city sidewalks where thousands of school children see them every day.

The offending ads for Equinox gym are located on the sides of phone kiosks along West 77th and 78th streets at Broadway and Amsterdam, where parents complain they're prime viewing for students from nearby P.S. 87, the Anderson School, M.S. 245, I.S. 44 and the Collegiate School.

"These are PG-13 level images and we have a lot of G and PG audience members walking by them," said P.S. 87 mom Cynthia Neuman, who declined to give her age. "It's not pornography, but it's just inappropriate in a place where parents can't choose whether their children are going to see it."

One ad, which stands across from Tecumseh Playground on 77th Street, where elementary-school aged children clamber over the equipment, shows a woman in white panties and bra straddling a man in boxers on a bed with the tag line "Endurance. By Equinox."

Another ad, captioned "Agility. By Equinox." shows a woman's bare legs adorned with nude-colored high heels sticking out of a sports car's passenger side window.

Neuman is one of several parents at P.S. 87 who've raised concerns about the provocative posters, said P.S. 87 parent association co-president Rachel Laiserin.

Neuman says she's no prude, and she wouldn't be bothered by the steamy ads if they were inside the gym or in another place where people could choose whether to see them.

But she said she and her husband give "careful thought" to what kind of TV shows and websites their children see. She doesn't think it's appropriate that her fourth-grader son is forced to pass the sexed-up ads twice a day when she walks him to and from school. "That's what's objectionable," Neuman said. "You can't opt out of them."

Equinox did not respond immediately to calls and e-mails requesting comment.

Neuman called the gym to complain and says she got a "very rude" response. She's written letters to City Councilwoman Gale Brewer, Borough President Scott Stringer and Mayor Michael Bloomberg asking for the ads to be removed.

Another P.S. 87 mother complained to the assistant manager at the Equinox gym on Amsterdam and West 76th Street, who told her three other people had complained about the ads.

Neuman is particularly troubled by what she calls the misogynistic and degrading tone of the "Agility" ad showing the lower half of a woman's body dangling out of a car, posted down the block from the all boys Collegiate School.

"What is the message of a woman being shoved halfway inside a car?" Neuman said. "To me it looks like a woman being abducted. That's agility? That's the best we can do for women? That’s the message we want for our daughters? You too can dive head first into a car?"

Jim Sullivan, a P.S. 87 parent walking his daughter Allie home from school on Wednesday, said he'd never noticed the ad featuring the couple on the bed at West 77th and Amsterdam Avenue.

"I've seen it, but it didn't register," Sullivan said. "But it's inappropriate, now that I think it about it."

A P.S. 87 third-grader named Anna said she didn't like the ad either.

"They look weird," she said of the couple in the picture. "I don't watch that stuff. It's R-rated."

An Equinox billboard in Greenwich Village generated complaints last year because neighbors considered the sign an eyesore. The city forced the gym to remove the billboard because it violated Historic District regulations.