Thursday, July 19, 2012

Fitness Zombie Stirs

Fit Women, or Naive Women?

Since I first reported almost a year ago that Peter (the Duke of) Earle was--like a bad Asian flu--returning to the Happy Valley, the pending business went into hibernation.  But now, thanks to a cheap banner hung in the doorway, it seems the fledgling fitness business is actually going to open its doors.

Usually when a business says"coming soon" and then ten months later still has not opened, it's a town thing (that Amherst is so well noted for) getting in the way:  inspection services, permitting or zoning board issues.  But in this case it simply appears to be on the developers end, probably a lack of financing. 

After all, Peter Earle gave up a Gold's Gym franchise (to save money) and then went out of business as The Leading Edge Gym at that location, leaving behind hundreds of thousands of dollars in outstanding bills.   And then a couple years later went out of business as the Leading Edge Gym in Greenfield, leaving behind hundreds of thousands of dollars in outstanding debts.

Anyone sense a pattern here?

At least the Mass Attorney General did get involved over unpaid employee wages at the Amherst location and those debts were, finally, paid; but hundreds of consumers were left holding an empty gym bag and they were never reimbursed for lost memberships.

Back in the early 1980s, because of shoddy business practices like this, the state passed a consumer protection law requiring new fitness businesses to acquire an insurance bond to cover memberships in case they go out of business.

The law was never really enforced, but never repealed.

The final occupancy permit issued by Amherst to any new start up business has a boiler plate clause saying the operation will abide by all state and local laws.  The town could cite/enforce that consumer protection law before allowing Mr. Earle to open.  

Or at the very least, require him to make good on all the membership he previously defaulted on.
Lousy way to sell your used equipment


Anonymous said...

I'd be surprised if the new place actually manages to open and stay open. The Leading Edge closed less than a year ago and people in Amherst (except the students who come and go) have long memories.

I was a member of Golds/Leading Edge since it opened, but I will not be going near this new facility. There are too many better other options.

Adam Sweet said...

I was in management at Gold's Gym Amherst. I know all the dirty secrets.

Anonymous said...

It's actually been almost two years since Leading Edge closed.

Anonymous said...

two years isn't very long.

Uncle Adam -- I know enough about Gold's/LE's problems that I'm not interested in hearing any more dirt, though it might be helpful to inform anyone who is actually considering joining the new facility. None of the local media except this web site has done much reporting on this topic.

Anonymous said...

I was surprised to get an email from these con artists this morning and assume they are using a list from the old gym to promote their new business.

This seems very inappropriate (as they still owe many of us money) but also very sloppy (as my name is clearly male).

I hope all of us (females and males) will spread the word that this new gym is owned by Pete Earle and that his business practices are shady, to say the least...

Not fooled said...

Also not pleased to see an email this morning promoting FitWomen. Obviously, they held on to the old membership records from Leading Edge and did not even bother to filter by gender.

Makes me wonder what other information about me they held on to like EBT bank account information.

Pete Earle is a thief and a liar anyone who does business with him at his new establishment is foolish and helping to promote more dishonest business in the area.

Is it too much to expect the Amherst Chamber of Commerce to step in?

Larry Kelley said...

Yeah, unfortunately it is about as likely as the town stepping in.

Anonymous said...

Larry clearly has more experience/knowledge about how things work in Amherst but I think it is worth a call (or two) to see what City Hall or the Chamber think about the Earles opening a very similar business in town.

City Hall 413-259-3333
Chamber of Commerce 413-253-0700

I won't be joining, for obvious reasons, but would hate to see others get duped the way we did.

Anonymous said...

FitWomen Amherst has a facebook page now too:

They have 30+ FB "Likes"

Funny how on both their web site and facebook page, no one affiliated with FitWomen is mentioned by name -- how can they expect to gain enough customers to open... Though the FB pics suggest there may be decent space in the rest of their establishment, the dusty treadmills in the front of their place are not a big selling point.

Anonymous said...

Fit Women is still desperately seeking members. I got this Groupon offering this am:

Last I heard, less than 100 people had joined so far. though maybe there are now more than than since the club web site now has a number of group fitness classes listed for each week. Still, given all that people know about the Earles' mismanagement of Golds/LE, I wouldn't think they would grow by much; there aren't even many takers on the Groupon.

Anonymous said...

This guy just opened BeFit in Easthampton! all confused!! whats wrong with people!