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.
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“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.