There are many people in the Tampa Bay region who take fitness very seriously, so it raised more than a few eyebrows when, in early July, health club giant L.A. Fitness announced they were taking over St. Petersburg-based Lifestyle Family Fitness.
Another ripple was sent through the fitness community this week when the Bally Total Fitness on West Hillsborough, acquired by L.A. Fitness in December 2011, announced they are about to close for good in August.
"It's a shame, I will miss it," said Bally member Dora Schupp.
Many of the members learned their gym was closing by a sign on the front door.
"It's a neighborhood gym, it's not a country club. It's a great place to workout, meet new people, networking. Staff's great. We're gonna miss it," said Bally member James Prentice.
So what does this mean for other gyms in the area? The Anytime Fitness on Kennedy says it's business as usual.
"In comparison to last year, we're basically right at the same pace, not an increase yet," said Anytime Fitness Manager Chris Murphy.
Over at Powerhouse Gym in Channelside, they say they welcome the new competition.
"What it does is it opens up an opportunity for members to really explore what else is out there on the market," said Powerhouse Gym Downtown Tampa co-owner Matthew Midyett.
At Powerhouse, they say they've already seen a five percent increase in membership since the buyout was announced, and say they're preparing for more Lifestyle members to make the switch.
"We're actually taking another 6,000 square feet on the floor, and we're building a new, 4,200 square foot loft in here," Midyett said.
The fitness shakeup appears to have people all over the region wondering where to go for future workouts.
"There are many options for members to go, but I'm sure that I'm going there I might just cancel my membership," said Schupp.
Local gyms can't wait for the next domino to fall.
"Actually it's a good thing for our business," said Midyett.
"I'm just kinda interested to see what changes are gonna take place," Murphy said.
FOX 13 made calls to L.A. Fitness to find out what will happen to Lifestyle customers' contracts, but they did not return our calls.
Health clubs in Florida are regulated by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
(Here is a link where it spells out consumers' rights in dealing with gyms:
According to the Department's website, gyms must "notify consumers each time the studio changes owners, corporate control or management."
"If the health studio has a security on file with the Department and does not cancel the contracts or issue refunds, the members may file a claim with the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Claims must be filed on the Department's form.
Members may request a Claim Form from the Department at (850) 488–2221 or 1-800-HELP-FLA (435-7352), or download a complaint form here:
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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