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Introducing Well+Good’s Ethicist: The stealing yoga teacher

Petty thievery at the pump


As a city, we’re spending more time sweating together in tight clothes, frequenting hundreds of studios that each have their own culture and code of conduct. It’s totally new social terrain. So it’s no surprise that a whole new genre of ethical conundrums is cropping up. To address these issues of, um,  sweatiquette, Well+Good’s Ethicist consults the experts, and wields a 20-pound kettlebell gavel of judgement.

The topic we explore in this first installment: “What do you do when you catch your yoga teacher stealing.” (Yes, we went there.)

“I practice yoga at Equinox. After class I saw my yoga teacher filling up a very large bottle with Kiehl’s lotion in the locker room. It had to be at least 12 ounces, if not more, and it took her a full minute to fill. She was not trying to hide her actions at all. Should I have reported her to the club’s management?” —Heather, West Village

We totally consider this stealing. Gyms provide shampoo, soap, and lotion as an in-club amenity, not as a back bar for members’ home use. Just ’cause there’s not a bar code on it, doesn’t mean it isn’t stealing.

That said, we weren’t sure about turning her in, so we asked Leslie Kaminoff, the yoga teacher’s teacher. Here’s what he said: “Yes, you should absolutely report it. It’s petty thievery, especially if it’s an employee doing the stealing.”

Then Kaminoff said he wished you’d felt empowered to confront the teacher in the moment. “Teachers should not seem unapproachable. If they are true teachers they should welcome questions and criticism, as well as praise. A teacher is a life-long student.”

Not wanting to speak for Equinox, Kaminoff also shared our reader’s dilemma with a big muckety-muck at the fitness club for their judgement call. The Equinox exec’s two cents? “She totally should’ve felt free to tell management. It definitely IS theft.”

Got an ethical dilemma? Is someone in your life lacking sweatiquette? Email us with your questions and conundrums and we’ll find you an expert to help solve them in a future Well+Good Ethicist article. You can remain as anonymous as you’d like. And we may change names to protect the innocent (or guilty).