24 Hour Fitness, the San Ramon-based company that owns one of West Hollywood’s best-known gyms, is said to be considering a filing for bankruptcy.
A bankruptcy filing isn’t certain according to sources interviewed by CNBC, which first reported the company’s possible bankruptcy filing. However, CNBC reports, “The chain is grappling with a heavy debt load, deteriorating performance and a coronavirus pandemic that forced it to shut its more than 400 clubs.”
Gyms across the country have been forced to close because of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, President Donald Trump is said to be considering including gyms and fitness studios in a list of businesses that would be first to open if the federal government rolls back its pandemic enforcement measures.
The West Hollywood gym, located at 8612 Santa Monica Blvd. just east of Westbourne Drive, has been especially popular among gay men in WeHo. However, in recent years it has drawn criticism for taking too long to repair broken equipment, ending its free towel service and not dealing efficiently with customer service issues like failure to quickly refill toilet paper and soap containers.
It has remained popular in part because it is one of the more affordable gyms (with memberships for as little as $35 a month) in an increasingly expensive city where a membership at Equinox can cost $300 a month and a membership at Monarch Athletic Club ranges from $1,250 to $2,000 a month (including related health services).
The 24 Hour Fitness space once was home to West Hollywood Sports Connection, a gym whose history was chronicled in a 1983 Rolling Stone story by Aaron Latham about singles life there. That story inspired the movie “Perfect,” written by Latham and starring Jamie Lee Curtis and John Travolta.
“In the story, Latham described an incident where Borkin and a male friend drew a crowd by getting into a busy romantic clinch on the trunk of a black Mustang in a Sports Connection parking lot,” says a 1985 story in the Los Angeles Times, referring to actress Leslie Borkin.
Eventually, Sports Connection evolved into a gym where gay men were known not only to work out but to engage in sexual behavior in the steam room and jacuzzi, which the owners of 24 Hour Fitness transformed into co-ed facilities.
CNBC reports that 24 Hour Fitness is working with investment bank Lazard and the Weil, Gotshal & Manges law firm to consider its next steps.