Last Fiday (Jul 31), an Instagram user posted about her sexual assault by an instructor at Trust Yoga. The accused instructor has since been placed on leave pending internal investigations, Trust Yoga said in a statement on Monday (Aug 3).

The alleged victim took to Instagram and Twitter to recount her ordeal on Friday (July 31), setting off a wave of online backlash against the studio, which has outlets in Telok Ayer and Tampines. The alleged victim, who said she is certified to teach Hatha and Vinyasa yoga, explained:

“I am speaking up because I cannot stay silent as a teacher and practitioner.”

She was molested by a teacher at the studio on July 11 while she was taking a class, she said.

According to her, the instructor had smacked her left butt cheek while she was in a forward fold pose and stroked her left butt cheek, her crotch and her right butt cheek while she was in an inversion pose.

She was “very stunned at the gross violation” and was not able to participate in the rest of the class despite the instructor’s insistence, she added.

She reported the issue to a staff member after the class and returned to the studio the next day to speak to other teachers. She was told that they would take “strict action”. The alleged victim also said she made a police report on July 13. 

In the wake of the backlash, Trust Yoga said it takes allegations of sexual misconduct “very seriously”. The instructor in question has agreed to take a leave of absence during the studio’s internal investigations.

The studio also confirmed that the authorities have been alerted to the matter and said it would extend its “full co-operation”.

“Students who do not wish to be adjusted during classes may pick up one of the ‘No Adjustment’ cards at the entrance of the class to communicate his or her preference to the instructor.”

The studio is also monitored by closed-circuit television cameras, it said. 

Responding to Trust Yoga’s statement via her Instagram Stories, the alleged victim said she was relieved that the instructor who allegedly molested her had finally been removed from the studio’s roster.

“But why did it take so long,” she asked, “Why did it require such massive online attention for this to happen?”

She added: “We are not averse to touch or proper adjustments. We are averse to getting hurt and molested by your instructors when they repeatedly ignore boundaries.”

News website AsiaOne reached out to Trust Yoga, the police and the alleged victim for more information. She said she would respond in due time and, according to other media, is currently seeking legal advice.

Another instance of fitness instructor touching student inappropriately at a gym

Following the conversation sparked by this incidence, fitness trainer and personality Cheryl Loh also took to Instagram to share an incident where she saw a freelance personal trainer touching a student inappropriately at Apeiro Performance. See her full post here:

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❌ 𝗧𝗵𝗶𝘀 𝗶𝘀 𝗔𝗕𝗦𝗢𝗟𝗨𝗧𝗘𝗟𝗬 𝗜𝗡𝗔𝗣𝗣𝗥𝗢𝗣𝗥𝗜𝗔𝗧𝗘 𝗮𝘀 𝗮 𝗰𝗼𝗮𝗰𝗵/𝘁𝗿𝗮𝗶𝗻𝗲𝗿 — 𝘄𝗮𝘁𝗰𝗵 𝘁𝗶𝗹𝗹 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗲𝗻𝗱 — ❌ When the other party is not comfortable with such action, this is considered a case of sexual assault. It is a very serious offence in Singapore, and unfortunately this has happened way too many times with coaches abusing their position and authority to do things like that. I personally consider this more despicable and disturbing than molesting a stranger – this is using the student's trust to commit such an act, which can really mindfuck a person for a long time. The coach in this video is a freelance trainer working by himself, and is not an employee of the gym. I have reached out to the client (swipe to second image) to let her know that it is NOT normal for such physical interaction during training, it is very unprofessional, and that she can speak up if she have felt uncomfortable about her coach touching inappropriately and groping during some exercises. Also spoke to her (not on text), and it turned out this was indeed her first time having a coach, facing such situation for the first time. 𝗦𝗵𝗲 𝘁𝗼𝗹𝗱 𝗵𝗶𝗺 "don't touch my butt" a few times over 7 training sessions, but he still went ahead to do so, using "checking muscles" as an excuse – which many trainers will know that's complete BS. 𝗔𝗽𝗲𝗶𝗿𝗼 𝗣𝗲𝗿𝗳𝗼𝗿𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 𝗵𝗮𝘀 𝘀𝗶𝗻𝗰𝗲 𝗿𝗲𝗺𝗼𝘃𝗲𝗱 𝗵𝗶𝗺 from using the gym space to conduct his own PT sessions – with effect from 2 August – and the client has now stopped training with him. She will not be making a police report, but she has given me the permission to share about this as she also wants all women, girls, or even guys out there to know that this behaviour is not acceptable and that nobody should put up with any actions that make them feel uneasy, uncomfortable, and disrespected. Anyone that feels this way should speak up and not let the perpetrator has his/her way. #ShareThisPost I am very glad that @apeirolife doesn't tolerate such behaviour, and I'm happy to be conducting my PT sessions in a safe, fun, and professional space with other likeminded professional trainers. _

A post shared by Cheryl Loh | Personal Trainer (@cherylfit_sg) on

The fitness influencer, who is also a personal trainer, reached out to the victim to share that the way the instructor was touching her was inappropriate and not at all necessary in this context.

She also shared that the freelance personal trainer, who is not an employee of the gym, has since been barred from using the space at Apeiro Performance to conduct his sessions.

How do you know if the touching is inappropriate?

When you enroll in a fitness class or hire a personal trainer, there will be some instances where there’s physical interactions — like when your form needs adjustment.

However, if you feel uncomfortable with the way they’re touching you at any point, just know that it is well within your rights to let them – or the fitness studio or gym they’re with – know.

If you have experienced sexual assault or are unsure about a sexual encounter, you can get help by calling the Sexual Assault Care Centre on 6779-0282 (Mondays to Fridays, 10am to midnight) or find information at www.sacc.sg.

Text: Kimberly Lim/AsiaOne
Additional reporting: Sophie Hong