Gym operators PureGym have apologised after its Luton and Dunstable branch made a post comparing a new workout to slavery.

The post, which has since been removed, was by a personal trainer at the gym who said had created a workout featuring 12 fitness routines called “12 Years a Slave” to celebrate Black History Month, with the further comment “Slavery was hard and so is this.”

The move was criticised by a number of social media users, leading to the post being removed and a further apology from the parent company.

The statement apologising for this initial post read, “PureGym apologises unreservedly for a post about Black History Month that was made today by our gym in Luton & Dunstable. This post was wholly unacceptable, not approved or endorsed by the company and was removed when it was brought to our attention. We take this matter extremely seriously and are investigating how and why this post was made.”

The moniker 12 Years a Slave is in reference to the film of the same name, which won Best Picture at the 2014 Oscars and was based on the memoirs of Solomon Northup, who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in 19th Century America for 12 years.