Date
26 September 2017
JV Fitness, which operates California Fitness, is reportedly in talks to sell the troubled health club chain. Members fear the shutdown of the Whampoa outlet is a hint of things to come. Photo: RTHK
JV Fitness, which operates California Fitness, is reportedly in talks to sell the troubled health club chain. Members fear the shutdown of the Whampoa outlet is a hint of things to come. Photo: RTHK

Members left in lurch as California Fitness shuts branch

California Fitness has suspended operations in its Whampoa branch, leaving members furious and fearful about the future of their money in the health club.

Some members said this could be a prelude to a full shutdown of the troubled company, which operates in Hong Kong and mainland China, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

On Sunday, the Whampoa club put up a suspension notice that the landlord will stop essential services.

It directed members to other branches, angering customers who criticized the abrupt announcement.

It did not say when service will resume. Some members learned about the suspension only when they arrived for their fitness sessions, according to Apple Daily.

There have been growing complaints about hygiene in California Fitness clubs involving dirty bathrooms, overflowing trash and frequent air-conditioning shutdowns.

These have been blamed on the company’s stressed finances, according to reports.

Staff were quoted as saying the Whampoa club is behind in rent and that some staff in other branches have been told to stop signing up new members to avoid a lawsuit.

Last week, HKEJ reported that a shareholder has served a liquidation writ to JV Fitness, which operates the chain. A hearing is set for Aug. 31.

Also, a source said the group is in talks with investors led FFG Martial Arts & Fitness Center, to sell its businesses in Hong Kong and the mainland.

The Labor Department said it has been informed about the suspension and will contact management for details.

Meanwhile, about 80 new members of the Whampoa club have sought the help of the police to get a refund, according to Ming Pao Daily.

Barrister Albert Luk said members are low in the pecking order during a liquidation.

Liquidators, secured creditors and employees owed salaries are given priority, he said.

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TL/AC/RA

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