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Life Time Athletic Fires Senior Manager Seen In Blackface In Racially Charged Social Media Post

Facebook/Paul Michael Russo

A nationwide chain of fitness clubs with major presence in New Jersey is dealing with the fallout from a racially charged social media post featuring one of its regional managers.


Paul Michael Russo, Senior Area Director at Life Time Fitness and former Florham Park staff member, can be seen in the April 2012 Facebook post dressed as a Greenbay Packers cheerleader in full black face, wig, and red lips. Members of the popular gym have been expressing their outrage on social media and in emails demanding Russo be fired.

In a statement Natalie Bushaw, Senior Director of Public Relations & Internal Communications, says the offensive image is not in line with the company’s principles of equality and human decency, and says following an internal investigation the company has decided to part ways with Russo. Bushaw says the decision reflects the organizations commitment to uphold a safe and trusting environment for members and its employees. 


Alexandra Hill began her work with WBGO in June of 2012 in the news department. A graduate of the Rutgers Newark journalism program, Alexandra was also a student of WBGO News Director Doug Doyle. Alexandra has since become the lead general assignment reporter, afternoon news anchor, and producer of the award winning live call in show Newark Today. Since working for WBGO Alexandra has covered politics in and around Newark including the 2014 mayoral campaign of Mayor Ras Baraka as well as the senate campaigns of former Newark Mayor and now U.S. Senator Cory Booker in both 2013 and 2014. Alexandra also covers a host of human-interest stories, and has been recognized by the New York Association Of Black Journalists for her piece entitled Sheltering Newark’s Homeless.