Gym Leaves Members Hanging By Refusing To Reopen

A June fire closed a St. Louis Bally Total Fitness, giving lucky members an excellent excuse to avoid feeling pressure to work out, but irritating those who had to drive half an hour to the next closest Bally’s.

Now Bally is telling members it will reopen Nov. 1, but a Riverfront Times reporter discovered the date probably isn’t correct because the location hasn’t filed for the proper permits.

Members are complaining that Bally has been stringing them along for months.

From the story:

After the fire, members say, they were told to use the Bally franchise on Dorsett Road in Maryland Heights instead. And a Bally representative responding to complaints at estimated the U City location would be closed for 30 to 45 days.

But June became July, and then August. The opening date was pushed back to late August, then Labor Day. At one point, a patron talked to a staffer and reported on Facebook that the very definite-sounding September 20 was the date. That day, too, came and went.

The story adds that Bally has continue to charge members during the closure.

Bally Total Fitness Reopening in University City — But When? [Riverfront Times]
(Thanks, Annie!)


Edit Your Comment

  1. jdmba says:

    Gym’s are based on a business model that people will stop going, and fast. That’s why they have long term contracts. Of course Bally’s is continuing to charge … it’s their business model.

  2. semanticantics says:

    Call card issue and do a chargeback.

  3. Blueskylaw says:

    Bally filed for bankruptcy in August 2007, with outstanding debts of $761 million.[3] Over the preceding ten years, its stock price had fallen from a high of approximately US$37.00 to less than $0.37 on the Pink Sheets, a plunge of over 99% of its value.

    On October 1, 2007, Bally announced its emergence from bankruptcy court protection, 100% owned by a hedge fund, Harbinger Capital.

    On December 3, 2008, Bally again filed for bankruptcy due to problems arising from a global credit crisis, but that it hoped to emerge from bankruptcy as soon as possible.

  4. FatLynn says:

    The contracts have some stupid fine print that they can close a location, and as long as there is another location within XX miles of your residence, you may not get out of your contract. I can’t remember what the XX is, though.

    • JustLurking says:

      I think it’s 25 miles. When we moved, the closest was 26 or 27 miles, so we were able to bail on our contract. And Ballys did not try any funny business, which was a pleasant change to see from them.

  5. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    The article was missing any indication if the old location was being worked on/renovated or if it was abandoned/empty with no evidence of progress.

    • There's room to move as a fry cook says:

      Found, missed it the first read through… “it usually takes about a week to get an inspection after a business requests one. Considering that Bally has yet to book inspections for electrical work and fire safety, among others, that November 1 date may be pretty tough to hit — news that will surely displease the gym’s members.”

  6. Macgyver says:

    Big deal, they have to go to another Bally’s.
    There was fire damage that had to be fixed.
    And shit happens during construction, like, they went over budget and they don’t have enough money to finish it. Or contractors went over time allotted, or working at their own pace, or other stuff.

    Why shouldn’t they continue to charge members when there’s another one a half hour away that they can use.

    • mjd74 says:

      Maybe where you live 25 miles is only 30 minutes away. That’s not the case everywhere.

      • rugman11 says:

        The Bally’s in Maryland Heights and the Bally’s in University City are 15 miles/20 minutes apart.

        • Larraque eats babies says:

          You’re not factoring in traffic or construction. Dorsett at 270 (aka Maryland Heights for those not in Saint Louis) has been a place I avoid at all costs due to the ridiculous amount of construction in that region for the past year. I work two exits down the highway from there. Expect massive delays getting past that interchange, especially during rush hour.

          Not to mention that 270 in that region between 4:30 and 6pm is extremely heavy. I work near Olive and 270 so I drive by Dorsett every day. Trying to take 270 north anytime during rush hour is an exercise in patience. I do it only because I HAVE to. I can’t imagine someone doing it just to go to the Gym because theirs burnt down.

    • frank64 says:

      Round trip that is an hour a day? Say 5 – 7 extra hours a week? A big deal and enough so many couldn’t take the time if they wanted.

      The answer is for us not to sign these contracts.

    • Gulliver says:

      1. You are making an assumption that the person has a car, or has regular access to a car.
      2. What if your work hours do not match with what they are demanding? I should tell my boss I need to leave work early or leave my workout early because my life does not revolve around finding a gym.
      3. Ballys does not honor their contracts since they have no problem filing for BK repeatedly.

  7. fabs115 says:

    I would attempt a chargeback. I had an issue with a local gym where I attempted to cancel my account, but apparently in the contract it said I had to give them 30 days notice a head of time, before I could cancel without being charged. Well I attempted to do that, but they said I had to come in and sign some papers between 1-5 pm only Monday-Friday. That wasn’t possible because I work. They charged me the months fee upon cancellation. I went right to Amex, disputed the charge and got it right back.

    • CBenji says:

      I would cancel my card, and attempt to get a refund in the mean time. With the price of gas where it is there is absolutely now way in hell I would be driving a half an hour out of my way to work out. That is when it is time to buy a treadmill or some other form workout machine.

    • the_didgers says:

      LA Fitness? They pulled this on me and my friend and leeched an extra $100 out of us.

  8. jason in boston says:

    I think that a call to the AGs office might be in order. Or maybe a real newspaper / tv news crew. 30 miles is a far distance.

  9. hotcocoa says:

    That really stinks. And so does fine print. I’m sure something will change now that Bally’s has this negative press…

  10. Scoobatz says:

    I’m not familar with St. Louis. What is the distance between these two locations in miles?

    In PA, if a club closes for more than 30 days and an alternate location within 10 miles is not provided, the member has the right to terminate the contract. (According to the PA Health Club Act.)

    • Sarge says:

      As the crow flies, the two locations are about 10 miles apart. The shortest road distance is about 10.2 miles, but in that area, it will take about 30 mins to travel provided there is no traffice and you hit all the lights green. Having grown up between these locales, there is always traffic and you will never hit every light green.

  11. Quake 'n' Shake says:

    This doesn’t surprise me at all. They closed at least one location in metro Phx, perhaps more, 2 years ago, but shrewdly kept the most centrally located one open, thus minimizing the number of members who could claim the 25 mile opt-out clause.
    The worst part was that the employees told us “Oh, we’re looking for new locations to open.” Some members bought that hogwash, but not me They had moved much of the equipment from a closed location into a still open location. Wouldn’t it have made more sense to put it in storage if they were intent on “moving?”
    Of course, there have been no new locations opened since.