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LA Fitness Takes Over All Chicago Area Bally’s Gyms

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(Credit: Bally Total Fitness)

(Credit: Bally Total Fitness)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — If you were a member of any of the 23 Chicago area Bally Total Fitness clubs, your membership has been transferred over to LA Fitness as the gyms change hands.

LA Fitness affiliate Fitness International LLC announced Monday that it was purchasing 171 Bally clubs, including all of those in Illinois.

Bally Total Fitness e-mailed all clients Wednesday night, reporting that Bally ”has made the decision to focus our portfolio of fitness centers in certain key markets,” and gyms not located in those markets have been handed over to LA Fitness.

The deal was valued at $153 million.

The e-mail told clients hat LA Fitness will assume all Bally membership agreements for the affected clubs, and begin collecting membership dues. There was no indication in the e-mail if the transfer in ownership might mean any changes in the terms or rates of memberships.

A representative of LA Fitness was not immediately available for comment Thursday morning.

Chicago-based Bally operated 271 health clubs across the country before the transfer.

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

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

Bally has 10 locations within the city limits, including high-profile gyms at the Century Mall, at 2828 N. Clark St. in East Lakeview; downtown at 25 E. Washington St.; at 355 E. Grand Ave. in Streeterville; and in the River City complex at 800 S. Wells St. There are also 13 more locations in the suburbs.

LA Fitness has existing locations in the Heritage at Millennium Park, 55 E. Randolph St., in the South Loop at 1101 S. Canal St., and in the Morgan Park neighborhood, along with 16 suburban locations.

The Chicago area Bally Total Fitness locations were known as the Chicago Health & Racquetball Club before Bally’s took over in the late 1980s.

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.

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