GREEN TOWNSHIP, Ohio — Small gyms, spas and health clubs across the country lost many of their members in 2020 and now are closing in record numbers.
The latest: FX Fitness just over Cincinnati's western border in Green Township — formerly Bally Total Fitness, a Glenway Avenue fixture since the '80s.
We found customers showing up with gym bags in hand, only to find locked doors at this once popular local gym.
Member Ron Gore received an email informing him that it was closing over the Fourth of July holiday.
"The email states the gym was closed, effective today," he said.
Gore, like other members, learned his membership is transferring to Delhi Fitness, another gym 15 minutes away.
He is not happy with the change, especially since it will be a longer drive and will not include a pool or spa.
"They are transferring my contract to another entity that is so inconvenient," he said.
Why gyms are closing
But the pandemic created an epidemic of gym closings. Fitness clubs across the country are closing this year, many of them unable to recover from months of lockdown followed by months of skittish customers staying home.
Many of them lost 50% or more of their customers the past 14 months, according to some reports, and it looks like many of those customers are not coming back.
We were unable to reach the former owners of FX Fitness. However, in a note to members, they wrote: "It is with heavy hearts that we announce our closing. We have not been able to fully recover or create new members. Simply put, COVID decimated our business."
Many states -- including Ohio -- have a 25-mile law stating that if a gym closes, they can hold you to your contract if there is another facility within 25 miles.
In this case, contracts were transferred to a gym 10 miles away.
So how can you protect yourself?
- When signing a gym contract, ask if you can cancel if you move or the gym moves. Most have specific wording in their contracts.
- Think twice before pre-paying an entire year. It can be very tough getting a refund if anything changes over the next 12 months.
We contacted Delhi Fitness' owner, Scott Stevenson, who said his gym will allow members out of their contract if they find the new gym inconvenient.
However, members who prepaid for a year may be out of luck getting it back. Delhi Fitness does not have that money, since those funds went to a company that is now closed.
As always, don't waste your money.
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