Yesterday, the LA Fitness in Morton Grove, IL was closed by the health department for being unsanitary. The news was not shocking to anyone who works out there or the LA Fitness where I work out on Clark and Diversey.
At the end of 2011, LA Fitness took over all of the Bally Total Fitness clubs in the Chicago area and many other places.
At first I thought the takeover might be good. Over the years, many of the Chicago Bally Total Fitness clubs had become more and more dilapidated. The club on Clark and Diversey stopped offering basic services like anti-bacterial hand wash or an easy way to clean off the machines after usage. The lockers are rusty and the toilets are often disgusting. I wondered what happened to the gym that I joined 10 years ago (at that Morton Grove location) that was a decent, affordable place to work out.
And while I didn’t expect miracles when LA Fitness took over, I also didn’t expect it to get worse. But it has. On one recent weekend, there was no toilet paper. They put industrial paper towels in the locker room (which certainly wasn’t probably good to the already deteriorating toilets.) I saw a woman ask the manager why he didn’t go to Walgreens across the street and purchase toilet paper. His answer was that they were expecting a shipment on Monday.
The saddest part has been the rapid exit of the club’s friendly employees due to firings and the reduction of pay and benefits.
Here’s the conundrum. In the vicinity, this is the closest, most affordable gym to probably tens of thousands of Chicagoans. You can just go in, work out, and try not to think about the deteriorating conditions or join a more posh gym for more money which many people can’t afford.
It’s like working out at Walmart, but Walmart has higher standards.
To be fair, I’ve never been in an original LA Fitness Club. It might be very nice. But working out at the clubs that they have taken over feels more like being at colonized gyms where the conquerors don’t care about the country’s infrastructure or citizens.
I think LA Fitness should address all of its “new” members via email and explain what its plan is for the clubs that they have taken over. Is it to run the clubs into the ground so people have to work out at their other facilities or are they planning to renovate and when will that happen? We just want to know.
Personally, I would like them to renovate. These clubs employ so many good, decent people and offer an affordable place for people to take out their stress, lose weight, and prevent obesity.
In the meantime, I heard there is a sale on toilet paper at Walgreens.