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Ex-Lululemon Staffer Reveals That the Place Was Cult-Like

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Image via Lululemon/Facebook.
Image via Lululemon/Facebook.

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A former Lululemon sales associate in New York has written a long, juicy article for Slate detailing the weirdness she encountered over six months at the Union Square store. Her time overlapped with a strange and disturbing event in a sister store in Maryland, in which one sales associate killed another and then tried to make it look like a burglary.

According to Mary Mann's story, Lululemon associates worked out together, sometimes two workouts per day. They read self-help books, ate gluten-free vegan food, and made lists of their goals. "Exercise—what sort, how often, the afterglow—was the main topic of in-store conversation, so if you skipped a day it was obvious and people asked if you were feeling OK," she writes. "We were encouraged to choose our favorite method of exercise, but it was best if it was something other people liked too, since 'The team that sweats together stays together!'" Staff was required to read one of founder Chip Wilson's favorite tomes, Good to Great, a corporate self-help book by Jim Collins. After working for the company for six months, Wilson would pay for employees to attend Landmark Forum, a kind of "group therapy-cum-self-help seminar."

When Mann heard that one of her fellow Lululemon 'educators' in Maryland had freaked out and killed a co-worker, she writes that it seemed "inevitable." "The idea that you could shape reality to look however you wanted suddenly seemed dangerous, easily abused, especially among my Type A co-workers, who exercised and worked and exercised and worked and ate so little that it was not really a surprise that someone, eventually, snapped," she said.

You know how this story ends: Mann quit work at her Lululemon store and eventually got hired in publishing. Do give the full thing a read, it's very interesting.
· Yoga, spinning and a murder: My strange months at Lululemon [Salon]
· Lululemon Shuffles Chip Wilson Offstage, Hires New CEO [Racked]
· Lululemon's 'Rubbing Thighs' Controversy Reignited in Maryland [Racked]