The health club chain, 24 Hour Fitness, sells a premium membership that they say allow members to use all of their facilities worldwide. A little over 18 months ago in San Diego, I purchased one of these "all clubs" memberships because I knew that I might be spending significant amounts of time in West Hollywood, California and in London, England. I specifically named these two clubs to the 24 Hour Fitness salesman in San Diego. I told him that I would not want the more expensive, all-club membership were it not for West Hollywood and London.
A little while later, I discovered that I was/am ill with cancer. I called 24 Hour Fitness and asked them to put my membership "on freeze" until I was able to use a health club again. I was told that there was no such accomodation for members and, unless I wanted to cancel my membership and then pay the joining fee again, my only choice was to continue as a member at $30/month.
For over 18 months, 24 Hour Fitness has deducted the monthly dues from my checking account. Yesterday, I wanted to go to the West Hollywood club to just walk on a treadmill for a while. I found that my all-club membership is no longer valid there because 24 Hour has designated that (and some other high-demand clubs) a "Sport" club. Their new name for the same place, they say, now nullifies my agreement with them. Interestingly, the manager at the West Hollywood club let it slip that all of the 24 Hour Fitness clubs are going to soon be renamed Sport cluibs--and that would, presumably, invalidate my all-club membership.
This is a pretty common practice among health clubs. For one year I worked as a manager of a health club in NYC. During that year the club changed its name twice. Each time the club name changed, members had to rejoin at a higher rate. Ballys Health Clubs have pulled this fraudulent maneuver several times over the past twenty years. Sometimes the larger organization, Ballys, will form subsidiaries and sell the health club chain to a subsidiary. That way, they can claim the club has a new ownership and can void the current memberships (particularly any low renewal rate memberships).
I am furious about this legal robbery. After leaving this note here I plan to contact the Better Business Bureau and my local political representatives.
If you have experienced this kind of health club fraud, please write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Perhaps we can consider a class action lawsuit.