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TMCNet:  L.A. Fitness buys local Ballys, will honor memberships

[December 08, 2011]

L.A. Fitness buys local Ballys, will honor memberships

Dec 09, 2011 (Sun Sentinel - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- If you're a Bally Total Fitness member, don't sweat it.

Your gym is becoming L.A. Fitness, and the company announced this week that it will be "servicing all of the membership agreements that were acquired from Bally." Customers have been told their contracts will be honored -- even if they're only paying about $50 a year, like Fort Lauderdale resident Dane Hymore.


Hymore said gym representatives initially told him his lifetime membership would not be honored. He and other customers complained, and hundreds signed online petitions. Hymore said he called his gym Thursday and confirmed what he had been reading online: L.A. Fitness will now honor the contracts.

L.A. Fitness officials could not be reached despite phone calls and emails. But the company wrote in a statement on its website that some of the acquired clubs will close before the end of the year, and memberships will be transferred to a nearby club, either an old Bally club or an L.A. Fitness. Most will stay open. The company said it has plans to upgrade many existing Bally clubs and "expand or relocate a number of the clubs to larger and newer facilities." Fitness International, an affiliate of L.A. Fitness International, took over 171 Bally Total Fitness clubs nationwide, including all of its Florida clubs. The deal was valued at $153 million.

The company will take over 17 Florida locations, including 12 in South Florida, according to its website.

Hymore said he has gone to the same gym since 1976, and it has gone through at least three takeovers. He said he was told he won't be able to use other L.A. Fitness locations that are not former Bally clubs -- unless he pays a one-time upgrade fee and new, ongoing monthly fees.

But he said can't complain because his annual dues are $50: "Some people are paying that much per month" for gym fees.

jvpatel@tribune.com, 954-356-4667 or Twitter @juliepatel ___ (c)2011 the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) Visit the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) at www.sun-sentinel.com Distributed by MCT Information Services

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