March 17 – World Gym, a fitness center at 265 Marginal Way in Portland, closed due to inclement weather on Tuesday and never reopened.
Gym-goers began complaining on social media after they went to work out on Wednesday and found the doors locked.
“This location is currently out of business due to relocation, relocation and reorganization,” read a notice at the entrance. “We apologize for any ‘temporary inconvenience’ this may cause our valued members. Covid taught us that we can overcome these interruptions and come out even stronger!”
Over the next few days, at least some members received an email with the same message. By Thursday, the equipment was being loaded into warehouses in the parking lot.
There was no word on why the gym was closed or when or where it might reopen. A second notice posted on the door Friday said a notice with more details would be sent “soon.”
Jim Ohanes, a member of World Gym for 12 years, said the situation was poorly handled. The Portland facility is a franchise of a national chain with more than 230 locations, according to its website.
All memberships have been transferred to Workout Anytime, another fitness franchise with two locations in the city, World Gym Portland said in a social media post Thursday night. All memberships will be honored, effective immediately, according to the post. Reply comments were not allowed.
World Gym memberships range from $50 to $80. A Workout Anytime membership is $14.99 or $24.99, depending on the plan. One social media user said reassignment or transfer of membership is permitted under the hub’s member agreement.
Joan Huntington has been a member of World Gym for 10 years and mainly attends training classes. Her instructor told her two weeks ago that all classes were being canceled, so she immediately decided to cancel her membership — but the process wasn’t easy.
This involved several emails, a visit to the gym, more emails, phone calls that didn’t go through, and finally, a call to World Gym’s parent company ABC Fitness Solutions. After almost two weeks of red tape and delays, she was simply charged again. Her membership is still technically active, but she was able to cancel the automatic payment.
“The communication was terrible,” she said. “It’s starting to sound like some kind of scam.”
When Ohanes found out Wednesday that the gym was moving, he opened a membership at Foley’s Fitness Center in Scarborough. He said he prefers Foley’s, but has previously stayed at World Gym because the location is convenient.
Now he’s hoping to get a refund since he paid for the year in advance. And he’s not interested in training at what he said is an inferior facility while paying more than the cheaper membership is worth.
A LITTLE EXPLANATION
While there is no explanation for World Gym’s sudden shutdown, tax records show the assessed value of the 2.5-acre property where the business operates increased in a recent reassessment. Real estate owned by Diamond Street LLC was valued at $2.7 million in 2020. Just two years later, the value was $4.6 million.
Huntington and Ohanes said the gym has struggled with maintenance for some time. Some of Huntington’s gym classmates repeatedly asked the instructor if the gym planned to close, she said. Equipment will break and not be repaired. The vacuum allegedly broke and was not replaced, leaving fist-sized dust bunnies under some of the machines.
Competition in the field is strong. World Gym is less than a mile from two other workout destinations: Planet Fitness, at 145 Marginal Way, and Orangetheory Fitness, at 23 Marginal Way.
Ohanes was not surprised by the closure. Rumors have been circulating for some time and he said he saw the writing on the wall two weeks ago when the trainers were released. But he expects the gym to remain open at least through the end of the month, he said.
“Everybody’s really upset,” he said.
Huntington doesn’t understand the whole secret.
“If you’re moving, you need to know where you’re going, so why not share that information?” she said. “They just locked the doors and that was it. It’s kind of a case study of how not to run a business.”
World Gym did not respond to questions Friday about the closing, contracts or employees.