Gyms see rise in sign-ups after closure of California Fitness

Participants at the Body Balance class at True Fitness gym.
Participants at the Body Balance class at True Fitness gym.PHOTO: ST FILE

Some of the estimated 27,000 California Fitness members left adrift following the gym chain's abrupt closure last month have found new workout homes, with gym operators reporting an increase in membership sign-ups.

True Fitness, which has six outlets here, told The Straits Times about 2,000 former California Fitness members had taken up its one-month free trial in the last month. Close to 900 signed up for membership packages after discounted rates were offered, said a spokesman.

HomeTeamNS, an association for national servicemen in the police and Singapore Civil Defence Force, offered affected members up to six months free use of the Fitness Workz gyms in its Bukit Batok and Balestier clubhouses.

It received over 200 queries and walk-in applications, and 25 eligible members signed up with the scheme, said a spokesman.

Fitness First, which has 16 outlets, offered discounted membership fees to displaced members for 10 days after California Fitness shut its last two gyms in Novena and Bugis on July 20.

Its managing director for Singapore, Mr Andrew Phillips, said the discounts and sign-ups were on a par with other promotions offered throughout the year.

A report by liquidators last week revealed that California Fitness members are owed $20.8 million in unused gym access and unredeemed personal training sessions, with little hope of recovering their losses.

However, some members of True Fitness and Fitness First are complaining of overcrowding with the influx of new members.

Private banker Fiona Lee, who has been a True Fitness member for over four years, said the outlets she frequents in Ang Mo Kio, Chevron House and Suntec City have been more crowded in the last month.

Fitness class slots are snapped up within minutes, with long waiting lists, said Ms Lee, 46.

Fitness First member Alvin Aw said gyms in the Raffles Place and Orchard Road areas were swamped during the last two weeks of July, with full classes and a shortage of lockers. But the crowd has since thinned, said the 38-year-old marketing manager.

True Fitness said its Suntec City and Chevron House outlets near former California Fitness centres saw the highest increase in membership sign-ups. It has added about 200 classes monthly across its centres to cater to the increase in users, it said.

Fitness First said there were more users in two of its clubs in the Central Business District last month, while improvements were being carried out at its Capital Tower outlet - re-launched yesterday as a tailored sports performance centre - and because of the closure of California Fitness' Raffles Place outlet.

It has increased the number of staff and classes at the more popular clubs, and made more towels available.

Several gyms have also announced expansion plans to cater to increased demand.

Fitness First will be opening a centre at Bugis Junction next March, and has plans to expand its heartland reach.

True Fitness will be opening an 18,000 sq ft facility at Viva Business Park in Chai Chee later this year, with a new functional training system and aerial yoga classes.

Virgin Active, which has one club at Raffles Place, will open two more by next year.

Mr Joseph Lee, who paid $5,000 for a lifetime membership at California Fitness, said he is considering True Fitness' one-month trial.

Said the 35-year-old public servant: "I'm looking for another gym, but I will be more wary of lifetime memberships and upfront payments."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 20, 2016, with the headline 'Gyms see rise in sign-ups after closure of California Fitness'. Print Edition | Subscribe