SALT LAKE CITY – A day after filing for bankruptcy and shuttering all locations in Utah, members of 24 Hour Fitness are feeling frustrated after the company transferred all memberships to another gym chain without their consent.
“We live in crazy times, and you just have to figure out what that outlet is,” said Jocelyn Meek. “At least, for me, [the gym] was my outlet.”
Jocelyn Meek is a nurse on the frontlines by day, and a health fanatic by nature. When she’s not at the hospital, she dedicates time to herself at the gym — having been a member of 24 Hour Fitness since 2004, it has become part of her day-to-day life.
“It’s your routine that keeps you sane every day,” she smiled.
When the pandemic hit, the gym chain shut down and signs went up — letting members, like Jocelyn, know it was just temporary.
But months into the temporary closure, the company used a pre-recorded conference call to lay off all Utah based 24 Hour Fitness employees.
Rumblings of a bankruptcy filing began to circulate the internet. All the while, the company had not been in contact with their members – but having heard of the company’s financial uncertainty, Jocelyn knew better.
“Days passed, weeks passed, [I] kept searching and then all of the sudden it popped up,” said Jocelyn. “We’re hearing all of this info without them actually telling us, we’re finding it from other news outlets.”
On Sunday, the suspicions became a reality when 24 Hour Fitness filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
In a press release, the company’s CEO Tony Ueber addressed the issue:
“If it were not for COVID-19 and its devastating effects, we would not be filing for Chapter 11. With that said, we intend to use the process to strengthen the future of 24 Hour Fitness for our team and club members, as well as our stakeholders.”
“We were just kept in the dark,” said Jocelyn.
Finally, Utah members received an email letting them know the padlocks on the Utah locations were there to stay.
“Now, after much consideration, we’ve made the difficult decision to close some of our clubs, including all of our Utah locations,” the email reads.
“Having that part of your routine just kind of taken away from you without any sort of communication of what’s happening is frustrating,” Jocelyn said.
Her frustrations were amplified further as she continued to read the email.
“We have partnered with VASA Fitness to help you stay true to your goals,” the email continues. “Your membership and any personal training sessions have been transferred to VASA Fitness.”
“Telling me that you’re just automatically going to take my membership over to VASA, without my consent, asking if I wanted it, is [showing] you don’t care,” said Jocelyn.
Jocelyn said she held a membership with VASA in the past and got rid of it because she didn’t like their billing cycle.
Now, with all of her personal and financial information having been transferred to VASA without her consent, she wants to cancel her membership. However, because the 24 Hour Fitness Utah locations are no longer on the company’s website, she cannot cancel until her information is already transferred and her new account at VASA starts come June 17 (per the email).
“You’re like in limbo right now,” said Jocelyn.
And Jocelyn is left feeling the weight.
“We’re your customers, you want us to come in, you want us to feel better about ourselves, staying fit, be healthy, and you don’t care about us,” she said.
FOX 13 reached out to both VASA Fitness and 24 Hour Fitness for comment. 24 Hour Fitness with a link to the press release regarding the bankruptcy filing and nothing more.
VASA responded to FOX 13's request for comment with the following:
“VASA’s goal in welcoming members from permanently closed 24 Hour Fitness locations is to make it easier for people to continue to stay healthy and happy without a break in their fitness routines. We are working hard to make the process as hassle-free as possible during these stressful times. We are really excited to welcome the new members to experience VASA’s uplifting culture and extensive amenities at the same price as they were paying at 24 Hour Fitness. We sent an email to all new members with instructions on how to download our VASA app for iOS or Android and included an activation key to get started. Members can view class schedules, book gym time and classes, update billing information and much more on our app. Anyone that does not wish to try VASA can e-mail us at email@example.com to cancel immediately and easily with no penalty.”
Mindi Bridges, Chief Brand and Marketing Officer at VASA Fitness