Showing posts with label Joanne Delong. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Joanne Delong. Show all posts

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The law was never really enforced, but never repealed.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

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Fitness Zombie Dies Another Death

Blame the victim

In spite of the recent headline that the Leading Edge Health Club in Greenfield had "No Plans to close the gym" the well earned end came swiftly anyway as today their doors are locked, the music silenced and machines switched permanently off.

Apparently Home Depot did not want to forgive $300,000 in unpaid bills rung up over the past two years, probably figuring any business partnership that can fall that far behind in such a short time is not a good bet to turn around instantly simply because one loser partner purges the other.

I guess the good thing about charging a ridiculously low monthly fee is that members can't be owed too much in lost pre-paid memberships. But it is still bad for the industry, sowing seeds of distrust and giving people the wrong impression of the true cost to run a health club properly--which is reflected in normal monthly rates.

Industry standard these days is easily in the $49/month range. So when someone promises to provide the same service for $9.95/month, beware.

If it sounds to good to be true..

Still a "Grand Opening" sign over three years later

Ch 22 TV news jumps on the story

Friday, January 20, 2012

No Exit Plan (same old, same old)

Leading Edge Amherst. Sign went up six weeks before business died

The Greenfield Recorder 1/20/12

Well considering Joanne DeLong and Peter Earle gave members, instructors and the general public only a couple hours notice before they scuttled their flagship The Leading Edge in Amherst last year, I'm not surprised half of that dynamic due now publicly proclaims the Leading Edge (rowboat) in Greenfield, has "no plans to close the gym."

Planning was never their strong point.

Obviously it's w-a-y more fun to plan for opening a business rather than closing, just like it is far merrier to attend a wedding or baptism vs. a funeral or divorce proceeding.

But consumers had better be wary--very wary. Both in Greenfield and the one maybe opening soon in the same complex in Amherst as the former Leading Edge. Considering their business model (low-cost, pack them in the door to sign up, then hope they never come in to use the facility) only took 13 months to accumulate massive amounts of red ink, it's hard to imagine a sudden turnaround simply because one partner ditches the other.

Apparently customer service is not a strong point either

And strangely enough, in this case, the partner getting ditched--Peter Earle--has far more fitness experience than Joanne DeLong, who jumped into the fitness field a tad late in life, with her main experience fighting with Earle at the Gold's Gym, Inc in Amherst before it morphed into The Leading Edge which only lasted another two years before suddenly going out of business.

As Scotty, Chief Engineer on the good ship Enterprise, used to say, "Fool me once shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me."
This from the Greenfield Recorder:

"According to court documents, Greenfield Fitness Inc. is in default of approximately $307,000 in back rent, real estate taxes and maintenance costs. The fitness center has routinely missed payments of maintenance costs ($46,420), real estate taxes ($54,896), and back rent ($205,524) since May 2010. The business opened in March of 2009."

10/24/11 They certainly cut corners with their Greenfield sign (now a weathered banner)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

AG makes Fitness Zombie pay up

Letter from AG bearing a check

The New Year started off shockingly well for aerobics instructor extraordinaire Catherine Sanderson--not that she needs extra spring in her double step--as a check arrived from the Attorney General's office for back wages owed when the Leading Edge Gym (Amherst Fitness, Inc) suddenly locked their doors way back on October 20, 2010 with barely a few hours notice to staff and members.

The AG's Fair Labor Division confirmed mailing restitution checks to 37 former employees with a combined value of $14,800. Unfortunately health club members who paid for long term memberships (some of them only days before the closing) are not part of this settlement.

Don't feel bad for the former owners, Peter Earle and Joanne DeLong, as they recently sold the fire damaged small business condo in downtown Amherst for $190,000. Plus Peter (the Duke of) Earle seems to be creeping forward with his woman only fitness center a few doors down from their old "Leading Edge" location.

Although, the only thing accomplished since my previous 9/30 expose was vital window washing. And we are now into January, the number one sales month for the fitness industry nationwide. Not a great way for a new fitness business--especially one saddled with a negative rap sheet--to start the new year.



Cooper Mine tanning salon: never opened for business. Sold 7/1/11 $190,000

Friday, September 30, 2011

Beware the Fitness Zombie

Peter Earle returns, four doors down from his old haunt, only smaller @ 3,000 sq ft

After the death of his full sized, full service health club almost one year ago, Peter (the-Duke-of) Earle has arisen from the grave and will soon haunt the Happy Valley fitness scene with a woman only operation, touting "services and programs that make fitness, fun, easy and affordable."

At $14.95/month--affordable for sure--but still expensive compared to Planet Fitness, the 'King of Cheap', at $9.95/month. Or the $50 million UMass Recreation Center, which is free to students, his preferred target demographic:

When Gold's Gym was at its peak (2006) they helped promote a Mixed Martial Arts event at the Mullins Center whereby Earle sent an email blast to young female members enticing them to participate in a "hot body bikini contest."

So the $64,000 question is, can this (re)start-up business survive at low membership price points in an already saturated competitive market when odds are against start ups celebrating a 2nd or 3rd birthday--especially when you exclude half the market?

Considering Peter Earle's checkered past in the field of fitness, about as much chance as a sand castle weathering a tropical storm.

Earle opened Gold's Gym--the gold standard of fitness franchises--on University Drive, Amherst in 2003 with two very experienced partners who owned a handful of successful Boston area Gold's. Only a year later the two experienced partners fled back to Boston. For good reason.Fools Gold

New partner, attorney Joanne Delong, bought in with a 50% deed to a dilapidated business condo in Amherst center that mysteriously burned just prior to opening as a tanning salon, and then years later when Earle tried to cash in that ownership learned the paperwork was never properly filed at the Registry of Deeds, thus making it worthless to him. Did I mention Ms. Delong was an attorney?
Cooper Mine tanning salon: never opened for business

They cut corners by dropping the Gold's Gym name to save on the franchise fee and remade themselves as "The Leading Edge." That too soon lost its luster.

This past October 18, the club suddenly closed with only a couple hours notice to employees and members, leaving behind unpaid workers, unhappy customers--most of them owed refunds--and a whopping $250,000 bank debt.

A couple months later, on Christmas morning no less, Amherst Police discovered Mr. Earle in the shuttered business trying to abscond with truckloads of exercise equipment only five days after filing papers for a new fitness business in Keene, NH. His former partner was not amused.Former fitness room, now Amherst Brewing Company

And neither are his former employees or numerous customers still owed money from the sudden implosion of 'The Leading Edge'. Earle's Craigslist ads for hired help are shadowed by postings from previously burned anonymous victims who issue a warning highlighting Earle's shady business practices.

Of course it makes sense that Earle would wish to hire a manager to oversee Amherst operations for a degree or two of separation, as he would not want to be on site when ghosts from Christmas past stop by seeking repayment.

Indeed, PT Barnum may still be correct about "a sucker born every minute." But now, with the Internet "wisdom of the crowd," the suckers--and everyone else--stand a fighting chance against hucksters like Peter Earle.


Since the demise of Gold's/Leading Edge, 3 fitness facilities have opened in Amherst:

Jazzercise, South Amherst
Personal training center and Aerobics Studio close by, East Amherst

The Deathstar! $50 million UMass Rec Center (free to students)

Craigslist: Personal Trainer (Amherst)

Be advised that Fit Women / Fit Nation are the same people who used to own the leading edge/gold's gym in Amherst. They closed that business very abruptly last October and STIFFED virtually all of the staff, trainers, instructors, and members on their way out of town. They have a lot of nerve to think that they can slink back into Amherst under a new name and open a very similar business in such a small community. People will remember how they were treated and many of us were treated very badly! There are lawsuits and fair labor hearings in progress so you should avoid this one like the plague!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

From Health Club to Brew Pub?

The long shot attempt by exuberant former members to revive The Leading Edge--aka Gold's Gym--has already sputtered like an endurance athlete hitting the wall; now a game ending scenario looms with the Zoning Board of Appeals "Special Permit" hearing next month as Amherst Brewing Company, a downtown icon, seeks permission to move into the cavernous University Drive location, a snowball's throw from Umass.

The thriving brew pub opened in Amherst center in 1997 as an anchor tenant in the former First National Bank building, just one of Barry Roberts many successful downtown assets, and they have expanded three times since.

In 1998 founder John Korpita made national news by winning a $3,713 lawsuit for damages brought against an underage patron using a fake ID. Mr. Korpita was also one of only two taverns in town to stay out of the 1999 'Smoking Ban in Bars War' when Amherst lead the way in that public health initiative bitterly opposed by a rowdy gang of barowners.

Gold's Gym opened in 2003, jettisoned the franchise name two years ago in favor of The Leading Edge and then finally expired last October. Interestingly in 2002, a year before they originally opened, the Zoning Board of Appeals turned down a 'Special Permit' request for a restaurant/bar in that location due to neighbors concerns about "noise and crowding."

Original founder and now former owner Peter Earle was intercepted by the Amherst Police on Christmas Day attempting to remove tons of exercise equipment (last second Christmas shopping?)

According to Amherst police narrative:

I spoke with Joanne Delong who said the equipment is leased and can not be removed. Peter Earle and his partner have taken approximately 8 loads. Earle was advised that unless he can provide paperwork stating the items are his, nothing else will be moved. The Penske rental truck was observed with multiple weight stands, and loaded with weights in the truck. The truck was secured overnight. Earle will return in the A.M. and place that equipment back inside until proper documentation is retrieved. Peter Earle was also advised he may face criminal charges if he knowingly removed the property illegally.

This clip is actually from the recent January 10 Select Board meeting. Never hurts to have Princess Stephanie as a reference (shown here acting as Liquor Commissioner approving a new ABC stockholder). And these days the ZBA is a tad less cowering to noisy NIMBYs.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Gold's Gym, AKA Leading Edge revival loses its luster

A desperate price structure that already failed once yet still more than twice as expensive as Planet Fitness

So here it is January--peak month for health club member sales nationwide--and Lazarus has not yet arisen from the grave. 'The Leading Edge' went out suddenly on October 19th and almost immediately otherwise sane folks who are exercise addicts started a movement to reopen the club.

By "movement" I mean more in the Arlo Guthrie sense:

And if three people do it! Can you imagine three people walkin' in, singin' a bar of "Alice's Restaurant" and walkin' out? They may think it's an organization! And can you imagine fifty people a day? I said FIFTY people a day . . . walkin' in, singin' a bar of "Alice's Restaurant" and walkin' out? Friends, they may think it's a MOVEMENT, and that's what it is: THE ALICE'S RESTAURANT ANTI-MASSACREE MOVEMENT! . . .

Their Facebook page attracted under 150 like minded fans before disbanding last week in favor of the blog. And yeah I'm a BIG fan of the Power of the Blog, and what I love about Blogger is simple publishing and it's even simpler for Anon folks to interact with the site. So for them to now have under 500 "members" who pledged to join --but put down NO money--once the business opens (by simply clicking a link) is stunningly inadequate.

At its peak (when still called "Gold's Gym") the business probably had 3,000 members paying on average twice the low-end membership rate now proposed and even on the day they died 'The Leading Edge' probably had a 1,000 members, having lost a gaggle to 'Planet Fitness' and the new $50 million Umass Recreation Center two miles down the road.Yes, this billboard probably costs about $5,000 month

By now the vast majority of their former clientele--down 60% from those peak years mid decade-- have joined other clubs in the area. Even more important, the fitness instructors have found other options, either taking up with Hampshire Athletic Club or renting space in town by the hour or taking the major step of opening a storefront facility targeting group exercise aficionados thus draining away about one-third of the target demographic.

Simply put, the overhead at 'The Leading Edge' killed them: prime location rent, utilities sucked up by the cavernous commercial space, and of course the employees required to cover very extensive hours of commercial operation.

If long time members had been paying attention they would have seen the handwriting on the wall two years ago when the owners abandoned the 'Gold's Gym' franchise (in order to save money of course) and relaunched as 'The Leading Edge'.

Ironically the volunteer committee of former members attempting to orchestrate this long-shot revival have chosen the name of another former dead club 'The Gym', which was located at appropriately enough the Mt. Farms Mall back when it was known as "The Dead Mall".

And now the Mt Farms Mall--far from dead since Wal Mart moved in--hosts 'Planet Fitness' where predatory pricing is the norm. Thus even now with the proposed unrealistically low rates for 'The Gym' they are still more than twice as expensive as 'Planet Fitness'.

Although virtually all of them commence with good intentions the tragic reality is about one-third of new business start ups fail in the first year. The chances for survival of a committee-run gym are anexorically slim, especially in this cutthroat market.

But fortunately, we will never know--since 'The Gym' will never actually open.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Health Club wars

UPDATE: 10/26 Tuesday morning
So who needs reporters when we have Faceboook? Sounds like the meeting last night of Leading Edge "gym rats" at Basta e Basta was about as disorganized as the final days of the Club itself.

A former member reports:

Original upload: 10/25 Monday afternoon

The Springfield Republican reports (via a Daily Hampshire Gazette reporter)

So I'll try to be a tad less critical of my friends at the Gazette and Republican as today's Business Section long form article simultaneously published in both is a pretty good analysis of the current state of the volatile fitness market in the healthy, Happy Valley.

Reporter Scott Merzbach did his homework and even took into consideration feedback posted to the original Gazette breaking story (as late as it was) on the sudden closing of 'The Leading Edge' gym in Amherst and the diatribe the same nitwit posted on my blog.

The Anon insists of course that the appearance of a low-cost chain outlet like 'Planet Fitness' and the $50 million Rec Center (otherwise known as the Deathstar) going on-line one year ago, had little impact on 'The Leading Edge' and the "real story" was the soap opera antics of the two owners Peter Earle and Joanne Delong. Yeah, and Santa Claus is Muslim.
All the average person need do to assess the impact of a 'Planet Fitness' or others of that ilk is to consider what would happen with their buying habits if suddenly a sparkling new gas station (owned by a regional chain) opened on Rt. 9 in Hadley charging only $.69 for Regular--four times less than the prevailing price of $2.79?

Sure, somebody with business sense might wonder "How can they do that?"; but as long as you get your gas at that ridiculously cheap price, why would you care?'Bally Total Fitness' pioneered the low-cost, high-volume, pack-them-in-price modality 40 years ago, but they were smart enough to tie consumers in for 24 to 36 months to an unbreakable contract.

And when they killed the other clubs in the market they would also raise their rates.

'Planet Fitness' doesn't do that (I guess that is to their credit.) They simply sell as many memberships as possible at give away prices and hope most of their clients never show, which is probably close to the truth.

But I have to admit the soap opera aspects of the recent demise of 'The Leading Edge' is kind of fascinating. Apparently after the two experienced Gold's Gym franchise owners in Boston (who had given Peter Earle his start in the industry with a sales job) wisely bailed in 2004 two years after founding Gold's Gym Amherst, Ms. Delong--an attorney not known for her level of fitness--came to the rescue and bought in as half owner.

Interestingly she used her ownership of a business condo at 30 Boltwood Walk in town center as the major payment "transferring" one-half ownership to Mr. Earle. Although the legal papers (probably drawn up by her) were not legal and now Mr. Earle has filed a lawsuit against her.

Either way, I had toured that particular location in 2004 just after Pruddy Gomez finally gave up on his boisterous bar Amherst wished to quash for a slew of zoning violations. Interestingly, Pruddy used his landlord Joanne Delong as an attorney, so she was making money off his rent and his legal troubles.

Regardless, the place was beyond a dump by that point. I think the asking price was about $200,000 and if it was in turn-key shape I probably would have purchased it, but the state of disrepair required another major investment to rectify. At the time the valuation was $200,500.

Thus half-interest was worth $100,000. Sweet deal to buy half of Gold's Gym back when it still had that Gold Standard name for essentially a worthless piece of paper. According to industry standards a recreation business is valued at about double annual sales, and I assume Gold's did at least $1 million in sales in 2004, thus making the value of the business $2 million.

It would be interesting to see how much cash Ms. Delong came up with in addition to the worthless $100,000 property deed?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Another one bites the dust

Postcard mailed to all of Amherst last week: one way to try to compete against "free"

Not good when a "partner" suits a partner!


So apparently a move is afoot--on Facebook naturally--to form a co-op and have the (former) members take over the recently deceased gym. What the hell, it works for Collective Copies and Pelham Auto and, hmm, maybe 1 or 2 more out of Amherst's 700 or so businesses.

Sorry folks, hate to hail on your parade, but unless you get Donald Trump (or Barry Roberts or Curt Shumway) on board to buy the property and adjust the rent downwardly out of the goodness of their hearts, with the current rent/lease costs you have less than a snowballs chance in Hell. Although, Greg Boisseau is no slouch. And he lives next door, so he's motivated.


Hi All (fellow gym Rats),

Greetings. I took the liberty of creating an email list of all the folks (from the Edge) I have email addresses for in order to keep us all "in the loop". If you know of someone who should be on this list please forward me their information (and forward them these emails).

I was extremely surprised and shocked to find our gym (our community) closed as of 5:00 on 10/19/10! I am sure you all share this same frustration and anger. There are a couple of things I would like to share with you: I do not know much but there is a move afoot to re-open the gym. To that end I would like to have a meeting with as many of you all as possible. At that meeting we will have a potential principal owner present. This meeting will be a great venue to express your ideas and thoughts about how we can move this forward. The new ownership/s will need our help getting the gym back on its feet. There will be no monetary financial solicitation!! I would like to have this meeting soon, I am thinking either Friday (10/22) or Monday (10/25) evening (6:00 ish). Let me know what works best for you so I can secure a venue.

On another note, I know there are three sides to every story (his, hers, and the truth); as it pertains to the two principal owners and the email letter we received (as to the sudden closing of the gym), I do not put much (or any) stock in, nor do I trust the author of that letter. If you feel the sudden closing and slanderous accusations (in the letter signed by Joanne DeLong) was insulting, disruptive, etc, I would invite you to express those thoughts/opinions in to the press and or social networking sites.

Keep smiling and Be well


ORIGINAL POST 10/19 3:30 PM (W-A-Y before the DH Gazette)

So the "Leading Edge" gym, formerly "Gold's Gym" is no more. As Captain Renault in Casablanca would say, "Shocked, shocked to find..."

Kind of hard to compete with that other nearby chain facility charging only $9.95 per month, when current nationwide averages for the Health Club industry are at the very least four times that.

Or that state owned $50 million recreation facility on the Umass campus that charges undergrads (a favorite target demographic of 'Leading Edge') exactly ZERO.

No, as a former competitor for 95% of their lifespan, I don't take great joy in this unsurprising news, and I will try hard not to gleefully say I told you so. But...

And yes, I will dance an Irish Jig naked in the Mountain Farms Mall parking lot when the next domino falls: Planet Fitness.
I told you so!

The Deathstar

The Joys of competition

Amherst Fitness, Inc
October 19, 2010

Dear Members:

It is with profound regret that a decision has been made to close the Amherst gym as of Wednesday, October 20.

Peter Earle whohas had full financial control and management control for the past 13 months, voluntarily resigned as of Friday, October 15. It became immediately apparent to his corporate partner, Joanne DeLong, that the business was left in such a condition that it could not survive without major changes -- such as dues increases and reduction in classes which, it is believed, would not be tolerated by the many members who have maintained their interest in and loyalty to the club -- some since the opening in December, 2003.

For those of you may be interested, we are offering the opportunity to continue at the Greenfield club (in the Home Depot plaza directly off Rte. 91, on the Mohawk Trail). You will have 6 weeks of free membership, including all of November. No enrollment fee will be collected for continued membership at $9.99 or $19.99 per month, upon signing a Greenfield contract. Anyone who has paid a year in full in Amherst will have the option to continue membership in Greenfield for the balance of their term or the unused portion of your deposit will be repaid to you. If you have been working with one of the Amherst trainers, there is a likelihood that they will be able to transfer to the Greenfield facility if they wish and continue training you there.

For those of you who are interested in this option, PLEASE BE PREPARED TO TAKE A COPY OF THIS EMAIL AND YOUR IDENTIFICATION KEY CARD WITH YOU TO GREENFIELD as your "ticket". For those who do not transfer to Greenfield we will reimburse you any unused portion of the dues already paid to Amherst as soon as possible.

We cannot say enough to thank you for your friendship and loyalty. This decision was not made lightly; and we are sincerely sorry for what we know is far more than a mere inconvenience to you.

Joanne DeLong

Press Release:

The Leading Edge gym in Amherst is closing its doors as of October 20,2010 -- another victim of the economic downturn. A decrease in membership -- partly related to the opening of Planet Fitness and the Umass gym -- has resulted in an inability to meet financial obligations, despite the efforts that were made in May to address the situation.

The Leading Edge gym in Greenfield is a completely separate entity which is quite healthy and thriving, mostly because of the lower costs associated with operating a health club that is not full service (classes, childcare and the like) as Amherst was.

Amherst members are being given an opportunity to join the Greenfield gym and continue their training and fitness program. New equipment is being added to Greenfield over the next few months, making it even more inviting.

The Amherst gym opened in December, 2003, as a Gold's Gym. In 2008, the owners determined that it was more important to present themselves and be recognized in the community as a locally owned gym than just another cog in the corporate wheel. Initially, as The Leading Edge, membership continued to build and the business did well. A decision was made to open a second facility in Greenfield, following the trend to establish a discount gym. Simultaneously, upgrades in equipment and flooring were made in Amherst. Unfortunately, the economic downturn was happening at the same time, negatively impacting the ability of a full service club to thrive.

One of the owners, Peter Earle, who took over full management of the Amherst gym about a year ago, resigned from all active involvement in the gym on Friday, October 15. His corporate partner came in immediately and over the next few days determined that the gym had to close. "It is with deep regret that this decision is being made," declared Joanne DeLong, "knowing the terrible impact this will have on loyal and dedicated employees as well as the many, many wonderful members who have come to rely on our services."

Joanne Delong
Amherst Fitness, Inc
Note to Virginia: Join Hampshire Athletic Club.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

All that glitters...

Like that old song lyric: "Don't push me cause I'm close to the edge."
UPDATE: Saturday, February 21, 2009 (Yikes) 'Comments' are the best!
And so it continues to go (but not for long)

UPDATE: Thursday November 13, 2009
I have been running a fitness center for 27 years and only been blogging since 3/17/07; and never have I gone back to a two-week old post to add an update (a day or two maybe, but never this long)

My sitemeter tells me I’m getting almost a dozen visitors a day to this particular post because you did an internet search for “leading edge fitness Amherst” or “Golds becomes the leading edge” or something similar.

And that only further proves my point! The local boys who originally founded Golds five years ago were supposed to be so hip, so cool, so cutting edge (maybe that’s where the new name comes from) using the Net, Facebook, email interaction with customers, etc.

But this name changed occurred so suddenly nobody thought ahead to take out a domain name under “the leading edge Amherst” and fill it with content so that when you did your search they would come up number one rather than my humble critique?

Original post: 10/30/08
Changing your name from the gold standard of health club franchises (not that there are all that many in the industry, as about 85% of fitness facilities are Mom-and-Pops) “Golds Gym” to “The Leading Edge” is kind of like that McDonalds in Hadley changing its name to “Billy Bob’s Burgers”.

And, of course, it has nothing whatsoever to do with paying the annual 5% of gross revenues franchise fee. Even at “only” 1,500 members paying $40/month that still amounts to a yearly overhead of $36,000.

When Golds first opened five years ago they revealed an astonishing target of 3,000 members. I say astonishing because if you added up the entire membership of established Health Clubs this side of the river (Hampshire Fitness, Kidsports, Ultimate Fitness and
Amherst Athletic Club) it would not total much more than 3,000.

But considering “Video To Go” located adjacent to Golds and about four or five times smaller in square footage was paying $5,000 per month rent (so you can imagine what Golds is now paying), they really do need that many members to break even.

And yeah, after Golds opened Kidsports and Ultimate Fitness closed--but the owners of Hampshire Fitness sold out to Perry Messer, owner of the oldest club in the Valley ‘Northampton Athletic Club’, and about as experienced a pro as you can get.

A recent Gazette article revealed that membership of both Perry’s clubs now number “about 3,500”. So the largest, oldest two clubs in the Valley combined barely exceed what Golds—I mean ‘The Leading Edge’-- all by itself needs to survive.

In an email to employees they herald “opening a second club in Greenfield soon!” Interestingly ‘Video To Go' moved to Greenfield (to escape the high Amherst rent and cutthroat competition from Blockbuster Video) and lasted less than a year.

And since the conditions placed on Newmarket Center in 1985 calls for sign review/approval by the Planning Board, you gotta wonder if the sign changes were recently approved.

One woman's experience

Previous post on the death of Ultimate Fitness