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:
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