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Life Time fitness center removes cable news channels from its screens

ST. PAUL – Life Time regular Robert Miller hopped on an elliptical trainer on New Year's Day at his Eagan health club -- and noticed something strange.

"The TV was turned to 'Law & Order' on USA Network," Miller said.

Miller wanted to get back to watching the news, per usual.

"One of the trainers said he would try to change it back to CNN," Miller said.

That was not possible.

"He said there was a new corporate policy," Miller said.

The Pioneer Press on Wednesday contacted Chanhassen-based Life Time, which confirmed a change in policy that might bum out gym rats who are news junkies.

"In fact, we did make the decision to remove cable news channels from our Life Time screens," Natalie Bushaw, senior director of public relations and internal communications, said in an e-mail.

"Why?" Bushaw said. "A couple of reasons — both the many member requests received over time across the country, and in keeping with our overall healthy way of life philosophy and commitment to provide family oriented environments free of consistently negative or politically charged content.

"Ultimately, it always is our goal to meet the vast majority of members’ expressed requests and we believe this change is consistent with the desires of the overall membership as well as our desire to uphold a positive, family oriented, healthy way of life environment," she said.

The decision, which she said was made after "an ongoing discussion for some time," kicked in at the start of 2018.

The deleted channels are CNN, Fox News, MSNBC and CNBC.

Big-screen TVs throughout the clubs "now air USA, A&E, Discovery and HGTV, in addition to local stations and ESPN," she said.

Miller, a club regular, said he was disappointed by the national news blackout -- and said he never saw any conflicts at his local club.

"I like catching up on the news while I'm on the elliptical machine for an hour," he said. "I can't stand watching those soap operas or talk shows."