Lawsuit: Bally Gym Members Were Locked Out After LA Fitness Takeover

CHICAGO (CBS) — The recent takeover of Bally Total Fitness in Chicago by LA Fitness is now a federal case.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger reports, some Chicago-area Bally’s members are suing in a class-action case, claiming that LA Fitness locked them out of the gyms where they were members.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger reports

In late November, Bally’s e-mailed all clients with a notice that the company had “made the decision to focus our portfolio of fitness centers in certain key markets.” Chicago was not one of those cities.

The e-mail told clients that LA Fitness will assume all Bally membership agreements for the affected clubs, and begin collecting membership dues. Since then, the turnstiles at the front of at least one club have been removed, and showing a Bally’s ID has been sufficient to allow entry.

But Mike Markzon and some other Bally’s members say that was not their experience. They say as of Dec. 1 when LA Fitness took over, their memberships no longer were honored and they weren’t allowed to work out.

Another Chicago-area plaintiff says Bally’s suggested he work out at the Bally’s club in St. Louis.

Even where there is an LA Fitness facility nearby, the lawsuit alleges, Bally’s members were told they couldn’t use it unless they bought a new membership.

The plaintiffs are suing for alleged violations of the federal honest services law, consumer fraud and breach of contract.

Bally has 10 locations within the city limits that are transitioning to LA Fitness clubs, 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.

  • John K.

    My wife and I have memberships that were transferred from out of state. These memberships are not being honored in Chicago, where we live. We contacted Bally’s last week and were told they would be transferred. We went to the club today and were told that LA fitness would not be purchasing these memberships, contrary to what Bally’s said.
    What can we do?

    • j phipps

      I have had the same experience. Bally’s made the transfer at my request on December 22. Was told as recently as January 5 that no transfers were excepted after December 1, NO EXCEPTIONS!!!, and that all I could do was buy new LA Fitness membership. I was told this by a LA Fitness Club Manager and on the LA Fitness Membership Service phone line. January 14 I got a e-mail from LA Fitness that my membership has been successfully transfered. Don’t let some one tell you NO stop you from pressingy your case with them. They have a lot as mis-informed staff.

      • John K.

        Thank you for your reply. I again called Bally’s headquarters and they said that LAF would not buy the membership. However, they offered me the ability to sell or transfer the membership. The local LAF club showed me an email from LAF headquarters stating they would not be purchasing these types of memberships, i.e. the fixed rate ones.

    • C. Mitchell

      I live in Richmond VA..where there are and never have been Ballys. My membership was a ‘national’ account purchased from a Staten Island New York member in 2000.

      My lives in the DC area, but had a Ballys membership purchased in TX.

      My partner, you and I are all in similar situations EXCEPT:

      1) For my partner Ballys/LA Fitness transferred his membership

      2) For you you were told that it *would* transfer, but haven’t seen it happen yet

      3) I was told there was no way my membership would be transferred. My drive to workout at the nearest ballys to me was already 1.5 hours. LA bought those clubs in MD/DC/ now I’m just out?

      Why isn’t Ballys and/or LA Fitness trying to make any of this right?

  • Bob C.

    I paid for a 2 year membership in September 2011. L.A. Fitness has told me that the paid membeship is only good for 1 year based on there pricing structure. Why would Bally’s accept payment for a 2 year membership in September, knowing they were selling the businees in the Chicagoland area in November? Can you say Fraud or something worse? Trying to call or talk to smeone at Bally’s is impossible. Now I have to workout at a facility I don’t like or enjoy at all. In the mean time Bally’s gets $171 Million and is on their merry way.

    • Jake G.

      Because in September they were not not even trying to sell to LA Fitness Gold Gym was looking at buying Bally at that time. Just because the corporate guys are doing something does not mean that the workers at the gym know what is going on. IT only found out about the sale in mid November even though we had suspected it earlier. And Bally is defiantly not on it’s merry way. They just had lay offs on the corporate level for the IT personal and are probably looking at selling off EVERYTHING. The only people making out in these deal are the high level executives and JP Morgan.

  • john

    My son had a Bally’s membership and he is going to the LA Fitness in Round Lake without a problem or any increase in membershio fees.

  • Elizabeth

    I just paid to renew my Bally membership for 3 more years in November 2011; mine is a transferred membership from a club no longer even opened. LA Fitness claims that they did not buy my membership since it originated elsewhere; Bally claims my membership was transferred as of December 1. I never did receive any notification from Bally that my membership was being transferred. Neither LA Fitness nor Bally will let me speak with supervisors when I do call their national membership lines. What next steps can I take?

  • Brian

    II am having the same problem. I had a membership that was transferred to me over 10 years ago from another state but have been using one of the local clubs here in Chicago. I believed my home club was in Illinois. I contacted Bally’s as well and they are telling me that I am being transferred to LA Fitness. However I am not in the LA Fitness system nor am I in Bally’s system as a current member. They told me to call Bally’s at a special number 888 210-4725. They tell me to call LA Fitness 949 255-7200. I have called the customer care number at LA Fitness and they do not know what to do. The 2 local former Chicago area Bally’s clubs managers I have spoke to only tell me that LA Fitness did not purchase my membership and I would have to buy a new LA Fitness membership (with NO special pricing or deals). I heed help to get this resolved at this point I believe from a higher authority at LA Fitness. I’m not sure if the transition was poorly managed or LA Fitness is trying to get out of some Bally’s lifetime memberships with low yearly fees. It seems that someone at LA Fitness has the authority to make this right. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated as I am running into one wall after another.

    • Jake G.

      The transition was poorly managed. IT was given about 2 weeks to do all the transferring of every member from about 63% of their clubs. It was a mess.

  • missy

    Issues, issues. Just put on your tights and let’s see some ass.

  • Walter

    You may want to look into this FREE Fitness E-Book. Lots of good information.



  • Cliff

    i would be very interested in getting in on this lawsuit i have been a member 38 years (nationwide membership) never missing a payment. Now la fitness is giving problems.

  • joining x-sport fitness

    i want my money back i too has a membership anywhere bally’s locations. majoer lawsuit for breaching all bally’s memebership contracts.

  • Cliff

    I would like to get in on the recent lawsuit against la fitness and ballys, been a member 38 years nevered missed a payment. Now their giving me the runaround. Does anyone have the Law firms name that is handling this case ?Thankyou Sincerely Cliff

  • Tee

    I’ve lost money with Bally’s. When I converted to the LA Fitness contract, I had 4 remaining paid up months on my Bally’s contract. LA Fitness did not give me credit for them.

  • Robert

    Why not honor the NY purchased memberships? I just paid my dues and now found out that there are no Ballys clubs in Florida. Something’s not right. The liftime memberships need to be honored w/ dues not being increased plain and simple. This is wrong

  • joanie134

    I have a lifetime membership that was purchased in the 80’s. The contract stipulated that I pay $60.00 a year lifetime for renewal. Bally’s tried to increase this once, and I called to rectify the situation. The services offered at that time, free trainings, activities are now charged separately. So those people who purchased lifetime memberships are now receiving reduced services. The “free” workouts are given at times not conducive to working class people for example, this wasn’t the case when the contracts were signed.

  • isc

    LA Fitness would not let us in without signing a new agreement for electronic fund transfers. Our memberships do not expire until February and September. I would like information on this lawsuit.

  • Jackie

    There is also a website set up to join the lawsuit.

  • Heather

    Wow, I’m surprised by this article. I didn’t have any problems with transferring over my membership from Bally’s to LA Fitness. Heck, I even pay the same monthly payment, which is less expensive then the new membership at LA Fitness. The only thing that is different is that i can only use LA Fitness within Illinois where as Bally’s I can go anywhere in the US.

  • Heather

    Wow, I’m surprised by this article. I didn’t have any problems transferring over my Bally’s membership to LA Fitness. It was really a smooth transition. What is really nice is I pay the same amount that I did when I was at Bally’s which is a lot cheaper than a new membership at LA Fitness. The only difference is that I have to use my membership within Illinois where as with Bally’s I can go anywhere in the US.

  • Tonye

    Hi Jakie, do you happen to know how many attorneys are in this firm that filed this lawsuit? Will like to join but will want to know if they have the staff to handle such a big lawsuit. Thank you.

    • Jackie

      Apparantly they took down the info I put up. The one Lawyer Eric Lechtzin
      215-875-3038 has sued both clubs in the past. His law firm is Berger & Montague (out of Philly) I believe they are big enough and know what they are doing. That is why the guys that started site chose them.
      The other lawyer (the one who actually filed) is Christopher Cooper 312-371-6752. He set up the site.

      • Jackie

        Oops! Sorry, I see they didn’t take down the info.

      • Tonye

        Hi, thanks. Do you know if Berger & Montague are going to file a new class action suit? That is the one I will like to join. I went to their website and they do sound quite impressive. Is this attorney Cooper working with them or alone.

  • Lawsuit: Bally Gym Members Were Locked Out After LA Fitness Takeover | Daily Beauty Reporter | Daily Beauty News Magazine

    […] The recent takeover of Bally Total Fitness in Chicago by LA Fitness is now a federal case. FITNESS – Yahoo! News Search Results […]

  • joan
    • C. Mitchell

      Read the accouncement as posted above:
      UPDATE LA Fitness has decided to simplify the access rules and give all of the acquired Bally Total Fitness (“BTF”) members access to current LA Fitness clubs as described below:

      . BTF “Local” Members will have access to LA Fitness clubs and acquired BTF clubs in the state of enrollment*;
      . BTF “National” Members will have access to those clubs in all states*; and
      . Acquired BTF members who only have single club access will continue to have access to that single club (or, if that club has closed, to another BTF or LAF club nearby).

      Members who purchased lifetime memberships at the acquired BTF clubs will continue to have access as described above.

      *Except for New York clubs (unless you enrolled in NY) and clubs designated now or in the future as Signature and Athletic clubs.

      Called LA fitness to find out how to go about having my “National” membership give me access to all clubs

      Person on the phone flatly denies any knowledge of the language as posted on the link you’ve provided above. Went on to explain that not all clubs, were purchase (common knowledge) and that I would have to contact ballys to transfer my membership to LAF (already attempted).

      Started to ask another question and was hung up on is mid-sentence.

      • Herman

        Dont’ expect too much cooperation from LaFitness. After all a lawsuit has been filed so now your fate is in the hands of the attorneys if you join the class action. They took out that link from their main page after the lawsuit was filed, and they are not doing anything else with any account that was not transferred. What did you expect him to do? Good luck with this lawsuit.

  • Joan

    They also hung up on me at the Clearwater fl LA fitness. [US 19 and Drew St] RUDE PEOPLE….. Also refused to let anyone in even when given to announcement for LA fitness. They claim it not any good, This was at the old ballys [US19 and Ulmerton Rd] ]in Largo Fl ” The right doesn’t know what the left hand is doing:”


    I also got a letter about the transititoning ownership my letter came dec.2.2011. Jan 18 2012 I went to Bally with my letter thinking it would be honord i was told i had to get or use their membrership card I USED THE BALLY CLUB IN CULVER CITY CALIFORNIA…

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