Monday, April 7, 2008

Despite Members' Sweat Equity,Gym Fails

“Not only the staff, but even the members of HealthFit, an independent health club in Needham, struggled to make sure the gym did not go under without a fight. Members rallied to the club, gathering more than $80,000 in pledges and donations to help save the business. But now, the fight is over. On Wednesday, the health club's owners sent a mass e-mail to all 650 members, announcing that night would be its last. The message brought to a sad end a whirlwind three weeks, during which members became front-desk volunteers, consoling confidantes, and potential investors, trying to bail out husband and wife co-owners John Atwood and Beth Wald as they struggled to pay off the gym's debt in a tumultuous economy. The way the gym's membership banded together exemplified the loyalty people feel for their health clubs, places they view as key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and where they are comfortable, according to Rosemary Lavery, spokeswoman for the Boston-based International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association. ‘There's a natural affection and loyalty and gratitude to them for making such a difference in people's lives in the here and now,’ Lavery said of health clubs.”

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