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Soy article upsets gym membership

BY STEPHEN FORBES
Last updated 05:00 02/02/2010
soya
Photo: STEPHEN FORBES
OFFENCE TAKEN: Paul Richards says he had no idea he would upset so many people with an article in the latest Club Physical newsletter.

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Fitness guru Paul Richards had no idea what he was setting himself up for when he sent out his last monthly newsletter.

Mr Richards is chief executive of Club Physical in Te Atatu South and likes to keep members up to date with health tips and lifestyle stories.

But the latest issue of his publication includes an article by American conservative preacher and writer Jim Rutz saying soy products make kids gay.

The piece says soy feminises men and commonly leads to a decrease in the size of the penis, sexual confusion and homosexuality.

Mr Richards, who drinks soy milk, says he added the article to his newsletter to stimulate debate – despite disagreeing with its message.

At least one of his clients, Club Physical member John Kingi, has cancelled his gym membership.

"It seems weird that such a mainstream business would want to evoke debate about a claim that has been so widely rubbished," Mr Kingi says.

"I’m all for stimulating discussion, but not about something that is plainly wrong and so blatantly homophobic.

"It seems pretty bad business sense for a company with such a large gay and lesbian membership."

Gay NZ has also joined the debate and is criticising the newsletter.

Mr Richards says the whole episode has come as a bit of a shock.

He wasn’t expecting the backlash.

"I’m in this business for positive reasons," he says.

"I’m not into this sort of publicity."

The Whenuapai resident has also received abusive emails over the article.

"I expected to get some feedback, but not people ringing up all the different media."

He says he has apologised to Mr Kingi and is sorry if the article has caused offence to anyone else.

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- Western Leader

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