Oscar-nominated actor Mark Wahlberg shocked and confused many Augusta area residents when he posted an inflammatory video on Instagram from in front of an Aiken gym. But no one was more confused and angered than the gym’s owner Lou Puleo.
“Someone sent me a link to the Instagram page on Sunday after he had posted it,” said the Workout Anytime Aiken owner. “At first, I thought someone was spamming me. I was like, ‘That’s not true!'”
In the video recorded at about 3 a.m. Sunday, Wahlberg was standing outside Workout Anytime Aiken. He said they had called earlier to arrange for them to workout, but nobody was there to let them in. He also scolded the business for not having staff on site 24/7.
Previously: Mark Wahlberg calls out Workout Anytime Aiken gym in early morning Instagram video
“This is not ‘anytime fitness.’ This is ‘part-time, no-time,'” Wahlberg said.
In the post’s description, the actor said he was able to find another gym, but did not indicate which gym it was or even if it was in the area.
When The Augusta Chronicle spoke to Puleo on Tuesday, he repeatedly said, “Nobody made the appointment.”
So where was the confusion?
Puleo said they received a call Saturday that went to voicemail from a man who was not Wahlberg saying he and some other guys wanted to come for a late night workout and left a phone number to call back. After seeing Wahlberg’s video, Puleo’s manager looked, found that message, called the number, and the man on the other line identified himself as a member of Wahlberg’s team.
The unidentified representative said they had talked to someone at Workout Anytime by the name of Ashley, but Ashley is not an employee. Ashley is the name of the pre-recorded voice that presents itself as part of the voicemail message, but is not a real person. Puleo said when they tried to explain this, the representative said Wahlberg wasn’t interested and hung up.
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Puleo said he and his manager also tried to direct message Wahlberg to sort this mess out, but they have not heard back.
Another point of confusion surrounding this story is that Wahlberg in his video called the business “Anytime Fitness.” It’s unclear if he simply misspoke or believed he was at an Anytime Fitness gym, though the closest Anytime Fitness to Aiken is in Martinez, about 30 miles away.
This entire incident has been deeply upsetting for Puleo and his employees.
When The Augusta Chronicle first reached out to them on Monday, he was hoping this would just go away. But as more people shared the video and reached out to his business, he had to speak up. He expressed how they take pride in having built a small, veteran-owned business, and how something like this is very serious for them.
“We’ve worked hard to build a good reputation, and in 30 seconds he tries to destroy it,” Puleo said of Wahlberg. “That’s just not right.”
But the retired U.S. Marine colonel said the last thing he wants to do or is trying to do is start a social media fight, especially since there is no way he could win against someone with 20 million followers.
“I don’t want to disparage Mark Wahlberg. I think he’s a great guy. I enjoy his films,” Puleo said. “But for him to go off like that, given his social media status, is rather unfair without stepping back and saying … ‘let me give them a chance to explain why I’m standing here at 3 a.m. and no one’s here.'”
Workout Anytime Aiken is open 24/7 to members and is located at 1614 Richland Ave. West in Aiken, SC. For more information, go to workoutanytime.com/aiken.
This article originally appeared on Augusta Chronicle: After Mark Wahlberg complains on Instagram, Aiken gym owner responds
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