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Bally Total Fitness closes Utah gyms



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Bally Total Fitness closed down both its Utah locations overnight. The move took the fitness gyms' clients and employees by surprise and left them wondering what to do next.

We talked to a representative for the company today, but he wouldn't give us a solid yes-or-no answer if clients will be getting a refund, saying the company will handle each account on an individual basis. What is for sure is the doors are locked, and they're not opening anytime soon.

Dotty Jensen and her friends are frequent clients at Bally Total Fitness. They exercise with a senior workout program four times a week. "It just helps everything: the brain, the muscles," Jensen said.

Bally Total Fitness closes Utah gyms

But today when they showed up for yoga, they were greeted with a sign and a phone number. "I came up and read on the door and called the number, and [we] were told they're closing all the Ballys in the Utah area," Jensen said.

Bally Total Fitness closes Utah gyms

In both Utah locations we found empty treadmills and unused weight machines. A spokesman for Bally Total Fitness says 19 underperforming gyms were closed nationwide. He calls it an "ongoing business decision" that is not related to Bally filing for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection earlier this month.

Neither clients nor employees received any warning of the closures. Former Bally trainer Tammi Reiss got the call last night. "He said, ‘I'm sorry to inform you, Tammi, but Ballys is gonna close down in Utah as of tomorrow morning,'" she said.

Today she's greeting clients outside the Midvale location where she used to work, helping them find new gyms. "I don't think they have much trust in gyms right now, as far as putting money out and then guaranteeing there will be service," Reiss said.

Reiss says she's not upset with Bally. Financially, she'll be OK. Instead, she's concerned for her clients and her former co-workers who are now unemployed right before Christmas. "For a lot of employees here, this was their job. This was their sole income," she said.

Bally Total Fitness is encouraging clients to call 1-888-210-4725 to discuss their account. The spokesman says people will be allowed back inside to get anything they've left. However, one woman we spoke to says she was told: "Tough luck. Anything left inside now belongs to Bally."

E-mail: sdallof@ksl.com

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Sarah Dallof

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