Workers Losing Jobs At Bally’s Fitness Clubs

CHICAGO (CBS) — Hundreds of Chicago area employees stand to lose their jobs at a popular chain of gyms.

Danery Barazza has been teaching Salsa Tone at Bally’s Total Fitness for 10 years. She and hundreds of other trainers, instructors and Pro Shop clerks face losing their jobs after LA Fitness takes over.

The parent company for Bally Total Fitness said Friday that it plans to sell 171 health clubs — including all of its 27 Illinois locations — to the LA Fitness gym chain in a deal valued at $153 million.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Lisa Fielding Reports

“We’re devastated, we’re upset, we’re angry. This is all happening within a week. There was no warning. We’re all in shock,” said Barazza.

She says most employees aren’t getting answers about their futures and the future for their members.

“My own general manager doesn’t know much. I was told that tomorrow was my last class. Some of my clients have been with me for ten years, what do I tell them?”

Barazza says several of her co-workers are Koreans on work visas to teach the Tae Kwon Do program and many fear they will have to go back because they’ve lost their jobs.

LA Fitness says many employees will be able to re apply for their jobs under new ownership but Barazza says this doesn’t make anyone feel much better.

“It’s the holidays, and now we are without jobs, it’s not a good time,” she said.

The privately held company will continue operating its remaining 100 clubs in “key markets” including New York, San Francisco, Houston, Denver according to spokesman Larry Larsen.

“It’s a strategic decision to focus our portfolio of fitness centers around certain key markets that we have,” he said.

The Bally chain has struggled in recent years. In 2008 it was charged with fraud after the SEC found that from 1997 to 2003, the company had recognized revenue it didn’t have. Later that year it filed for bankruptcy and closed several clubs. The company emerged from bankruptcy in 2009. Bally said its expects the sale to be completed by Nov. 30.

WBBM Newsradio contacted LA Fitness but no one was available to comment.

  • Jack Meghoff

    Couldn’t they have waited a couple of weeks?

    Another example of corporate greed or indifference and once again the middle class average joe gets the shatft

    • Larry

      This has nothing to do with corporate greed. A business’s goal is to make a profit, period. They aren’t going to pay people to stand around and do nothing just because Christmas is coming. It’s a raw deal, but it is only business.

      • Angel

        Larry, you are a true IDIOT!!!!….I wonder what your job title is?..Or are you out of work now, and that is why you are speaking out from your A$$!

    • scoperadio

      unless Larry owns a corporation I wonder why he sticks up for one so profusely. Why would anyone? Larry is just further proof that capitalism = heartless corporate greed.

      • Larry

        You’re not suggesting that a company should pay people to do nothing, just because a holiday is coming? You wouldn’t. You sound alot like a socialist, expecting handouts to be given out to those who need them. You call it, heartless corporate greed, I call it a necessary business decision that had to be made. What is wrong with you? If the business isn’t there, you have to let people go. It’s a business, not a charity!

      • Mike

        I blame Obama for not bailing out Ballys like he did GM.

      • Shirley

        Why Blame President Obama? It seems he gets blamed for EVERYTHING. Why not blame BUSH since Ballys was in trouble long before President Obama took office. (Google It) and while you’re there, read about all the thefts at Ballys. Which is why I refuse to ever step foot at Ballys again. You can’t make money If people don’t come. And why come if you might get robbed. Fitness clubs go and come. Ballys is not up there with GM. Get Real. This is all about BAD management.

  • Legato

    Agreed Jack. This is so selfish and less caring, enough. At the holiday season?
    It should have waited. Announce the news now. Make the changes on January 2012.

  • clubcompany

    A real tough break for Ball’s employees. Check out for current job openings.

  • Katie

    I agree with Larry, this is a business and it must make a profit to stay open. It is letting go employee’s but, they can apply for their jobs back right away. That is not heartless. That is making sure that the employee’s that are working for them are qualified. There is a reason why Bally’s went under. Now is the time to restructure and get the business back in making money, so guest can work our safely and with qualified trainers.

  • dan

    You cannot staff a health club with thin air-they need the employees-they just want them to re-apply so they can pay them less and cut their benefits

    That is where the greed comes in-what happened to getting a job and working hard and being loyal to the company? Only to be caught up in a squeeze and getting the shaft. Maybe the executives that made the decisions and set the pricing and chose the marketing are more to blame than the front line employees-I’m sure they got their little golden parachute to cover their exit!

    The indiffernce comes from doing this before christmas-I’m sure they are not gushing red ink and they didn’t sell the chain for chump change either they could have waited-they just want to get all the lower paid employees in place before the rush after new year resolutions kick in.

    Stinks either way!

    • Omar Gil

      Bally’s gave its loyal members a great example of Corporate greed and LA Fitness is providing the shaft by ending and not honoring the Bally’s fitness lifetime members contract nor any other. I am Miami, Florida (Attending Bally’s at Southland Mall) and I was informed by the new LA Fitness staff that Bally’s has sold all of its memberships with a final expiration date ending 2012 of a calendar year (Corporate Greed), in which time all will be subject to LA Fitness new monthly rates (The Shaft.)

  • ly

    So what happens to Bally Fitness Membership owners? Is your membership grandfathered in at LA Fitness? When will MEMBERS be notified?

  • mike

    Who is John Galt?

  • m

    who cares about the koreans.Millions of people that belong here are out of work

  • Shirley Graham

    I was robbed at balleys. I believe it was a inside job. My lock was cut off my locker to get my car keys where they went to the trunk of my car and stole my purse. I’m still going through identity theft. Balleys said they wern’t responsible because I should have kept my keys with me.

    I later found out that it happens All the time. I had been a member since 1980. I never stepped foot in balley again. And neither did my friends.

    • stay

      Don’t feel bad Shirley that happened to me too. Google la fitness, theft goes on there as well. By the way, la fitness are a bunch of gangsters. Beware!!!!! Im gonna miss ole Ballys.

      • Shirley

        Thanks Stay. Yes I believe the same thing goes on at La fitness too. These crooks move from club to club. Unfortunately the clubs don’t offer enough security. I was in the gym Everyday and now, I don’t go at all. My compaints to Balleys fell on death ears. It’s a shame you can’t even go to a gym and feel comfortable. I trust none of them.

  • Bob Denver

    Bally’s has been struggling for quite a long time, so anyone who thought they had job security was just fooling themselves. Be thankful they were bough out and did not just go under. Former Bally’s employees still have an opportunity to get a job with LA Fitness, which I actually think is a slightly better club than Bally’s.

  • monique

    My son and thousands of other taekwondo students are being displaced. We literally showed up for class on Tuesday and were told that there was no more Total Martial Arts. I think it stinks that LA Fitness would cancel a program that benefits so many children with no notice or plans to help them relocate. You cannot start a brand new program without losing your belt. All of that work gone to waste, unless the Korean AND American masters and instructors can find a way to continue their training privately, which is not an easy task.

  • Mr.RC

    This totally sucks the BIG ONE!!!
    No notice to any of us of this change?
    Question? what happens to our membership?
    I paid alot of money inadvance for THREE YEARS!!
    This is my first year using the gym.Here you have loyal customers paying their dues every month.And you Ballys just close the door on our faces.
    That’s not cool at all dudes!!! I want my money back and my sons too!!

    • Cindy

      My sister called Ballys to see about the memebership, if you paid in advance and did a contract, LA fitness will honor it until it ends. then after it ends you choose if you want to renew contract with LA Fitness

  • Cindy

    It sucks for the employees because not until two weeks ago they were notified that LA fitness was taking over. Not until this monday they were told they no longer had a job. The employees from the taekwondo, pro shops definately dont have a job. NO ONE is guaranteed a job after this sale. The employees were told that they had to apply online and sumit their appplication to LA Fitness, they might receive a phone call to have an interview, if they get hire they are definately not getting hired with the same wage.

  • LA Fitness Takes Over All Chicago Area Bally’s Gyms « CBS Chicago

    […] As a consequence of the ownership transfer, hundreds of Chicago area Bally employees stood to lose t… Earlier this week, Bally salsa tone instructor Danery Barazza most employees aren’t getting answers about their futures and the future for their members. […]


    Here are the stories I was told. They conflict and show a strong willingness to lie and deceive on the parts of Ballys and LA Fitness.

    I was told by Bally’s that my membership would be taken over by LA Fitness at the same rate with the same type of membership. I was even locked out of their website. I have no membership with bally’s.

    I called LA Fitness, they said they only purchased clubs not memberships. They said that I could go to their club until Dec 31, then I would have to join them. But, in contrast to the bally liar, their staff liar says I do have a membership at Bally Fitness and would have to commute 2,000 to 4,000 miles to the gym.

    • Johhny

      What they’re doing is quieting you down and shutting you up until January. Then when that time comes, a salesman will bleed you into a highpriced membership.

      You see, the US government is going to do nothing about this blatant violation of anti-trust law. And LA Fitness knows this. They’ve been breaking federal laws for years.

  • Ed


    Totally agree with you.
    LA fitness will try to get more money out of each of the ex Bally members. They will limit the clubs you can visit-you would have to upgrade or they might increase your dues after your prepay dues are up.
    Not a good thing

    • johnny

      This is absolutely true. I will be using the local municipal gyms. They’re free for local residents. For travel, I may join YMCA, at least that’s a community and benefits others.

      LA Fitness is just some greedy indifferent corporation. Occupy Orange County should camp out in front of their headquarters.

  • Syl Sosa

    I am very angry at all of this, Before the change we bought a new 2 year contract and was suppose to get 3rd year free for being members for many many years. Now we dont get our free year which was the reason I bought the renewal, plus club hours change and are very inconvinient. But I found a club that closes till midnight and found out Im not able to go there because they were not Ballys before. They took my free year my money and I cant go to any club, They should had advised us before about the change, plus the new people working in 2 clubs were very rude.

  • Omar Gil

    Bally’s gave its loyal members a great example of Corporate greed and LA Fitness is providing the shaft by ending and not honoring the Bally’s fitness lifetime members contract nor any other. I am Miami, Florida (Attending Bally’s at Southland Mall) and I was informed by the new LA Fitness staff that Bally’s has sold all of its memberships with a final expiration date ending 2012 of a calendar year (Corporate Greed), in which time all will be subject to LA Fitness new monthly rates (The Shaft.) Class Action Lawsuit

  • Mike

    this is nothing new, this happens whenever one company takes over another and if it was in troulbe financially, it was becasue they where not oparating the business properly so therefore they have to rewire the new locations and closed others.

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