A dirge for 24 Hour Fitness

By Brian Sonia-Wallace

Last night, the final hours of the 24 Hour Fitness location in west Hollywood saw a packed gym as longtime members crowded machines for one last workout. The energy was different — off-shift staff sat at the front desk to spend a few more moments with their colleagues, and in the last ten minutes they cranked the volume up to NSync’s, Bye Bye Bye, The Final Countdown, and Time of Your Life, as if this were a high school graduation.

Outside, members gathered with candles for a final farewell in a little mock ritual, complete with everyone “spreading ashes” — actually chocolate whey protein powder, in memory of the institution’s passing.

In my role as city poet laureate, I shared Emily Dickinson‘s poem “because I could not stop for death”. Poet Corey Saucier wrote an original piece for the occasion, reflecting on his 20 year history with the gym as a site of self discovery following his HIV diagnosis, a powerful reflection on blackness and self-love in a space that fluctuated between propagation and subversion of white supremacist beauty standards and heteronormative gym culture. Local poet and Melrose Poetry Bureau cofounder Nayeli Adorador-Knudsen finished off the evening reading Pablo Neruda’s Love Sonnet LXXXIX:

“I want what I love to continue to live,

and you whom I love and sang above everything else

to continue to flourish, full-flowered”

The funeral flash mob attracted 30+ gym-goers, including delighted and slightly incredulous staff. 24 Hour Fitness on Santa Monica Boulevard has been bought by John Reed Fitness and is heading toward a $7 million re-model and membership rates of $130 a month, up from the current $50/month rate (and that’s not counting longtime members for whom the new monthly rate has been more than their entire year’s membership). Members spoke of “the end of an era,” though noting the various eras the gym had been through to make it more difficult for men to cruise. “[the new owners] are not familiar with the culture here,” one staffer said. “They are planning to have a nap room. Good luck!”

The original invitation to the mock memorial read as follows:

The Bureau for existential complaints invites you to…

A Dirge for 24 Hour Fitness

24 hour fitness closes its doors for the last time on Tuesday, November 30, at 9pm. The West Hollywood Poet Laureate invites you for a final walk-through of the space at 8:30pm, with electronic candles. Wear a shroud if you can. Or just take your shirt off and join us. The processional will finish with a mournful reading of Emily Dickinson outside and a group howl/beating of chests/rending of clothing (note: please bring clothes to rend, you beast). Let’s celebrate and mourn the death of space and use and tradition in the context of late capitalism paving the way for a more expensive capitalistic capitalism. Refreshments will be provided.

0 0 votes
Article Rating

Subscribe
Notify of
guest

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

16 Comments
Newest
Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Dan
Dan
27 days ago

I’m gonna miss Sports Infection and 24-Hour Bathhouse. It was the first gay space (minus Abbey) I felt comfortable. I was a 19 year old chicken exploring the world of Daddy’s in the mid-90s. So many memories. Like my first gay date. Making friends. My first trainer, Lance. My first in-sauna blow job. I have never been an advocate of exclusive gay spaces but this place was sacrosanct. The place I use to look forward to going after the stresses of UCLA. But then I graduated to Crunch and then Equinox. I will miss the pool and the colorful people.… Read more »

DesertBob
DesertBob
1 month ago

Mark my word…WeeHoe is collapsing upon itself. Within 15 years, it’ll all be a Middle Eastern tourist trap.

Gavin Elster
Gavin Elster
1 month ago

I was a member there, as Sports Connection, when they were filming parts of the campy, disco aerobics-era “Perfect” movie. I think a Santa Monica club was also used? John Travolta, who was in the film with Jaime Lee Curtis, would, between scenes, play basketball in the back, where there was an outdoor court. Back in the day, 1960’s, this was the Beverly Hills Health Club, where golden-age thespians like Rock Hudson, and others, would literally hang-out. Some more that others. I personally had some “good times” on the roof-top sun deck, at NIGHT. Wink-wink. Ahhhhhh the memories.

GREGG MITCHELL
GREGG MITCHELL
1 month ago

The photo of pouring protein powder (“ashes”) is a nice touch. I worked out there back in the #90s – RIP Sports Connection aka 24 Hour Fitness

Johnny
Johnny
1 month ago

The parent company filed BK sometime ago. You cannot ignore corporate mismanagement or local mismanagement. It wasn’t well maintained or clean. Equinox at 250 is offensive but the equipment is newer and it’s clean but too pricey but they have solid financials. The real estate is too valuable for cheap memberships which results in a run down club. The era of cheap memberships is over everywhere because as long as demand is high pricing will be high. Maybe some of the people there at 2pm will find work if any restaurants remain open next year but waiters can’t pay 150… Read more »

Mr Iknow
Mr Iknow
1 month ago

John Reed in DTLA is a terrible facility with hip hop spun by a DJ so loud even the most expensive Bose earbuds are no defense against it. This business is going to have one hell of a time dialing into the WeHo vibe. $7m renovation? Give me the $7m instead of flushing it…

Kenya Sanchez
Kenya Sanchez
1 month ago

This really is a sad occasion. I hadn’t been keeping up on the news on this so I did not know that they were being bought out. All I know is that most of the 24 Hour Fitness facilities here in the Dallas-Fort Worth area have been shutting down. I am in the minority group of people who actually have the lifetime membership Fitness that they offered over 10 years ago. I paid about $900 for the Lifetime Fitness membership that renews at $50 each year. From the article, it looks like I may be protected from the renewal upcharge.… Read more »

Randy
Randy
1 month ago
Reply to  Kenya Sanchez

I’m in that group as well. They closed the Hollywood, and now the West Hollywood location. I paid $29 a year, to have access to most 24 hour Fitnesses. I am more sad, for the folks who don’t have an affordable gym to go to anymore. This town is changing. I guess there’s always the YMCA?

David
David
1 month ago

This place was so mismanaged for years. It went from a money generating business to a calf they could milk.

South of Melrose
South of Melrose
1 month ago

Everyone shows up for every protest in this town including a mock ceremony over the closing of a gym but yet nobody showed up to our city’s 9/11 memorial (which was a pathetic underwhelming display) for the 20th Anniversary recently. Sad commentary.

Ian
Ian
1 month ago

9/11 wasn’t Rainbowey enough.

Last edited 1 month ago by Ian
David
David
1 month ago

For people who have gone to this gym and it’s various iterations though the years this was a sad day. It marks the passing of one of the more reliably gay-ish places to congregate that wasn’t a bar or club per se. I’m afraid it’s next iteration won’t be as accessible or even desirable. I don’t need a DJ or a nap room.

Joe Bologna
Joe Bologna
1 month ago

Wow. How offensive. I DEMAND a correction or you will be canceled, ya hear?! It’s NSYNC who sang “Bye Bye Bye,” NOT Backstreet Boys! I am gonna be in my safe room until you correct that offensive error!!! In the name 98 Degrees, get your facts right!

Michael Dolan
Michael Dolan
1 month ago
Reply to  Joe Bologna

Backstreet Boys sang “Bye Bye Love.”

Larry Block
Admin
Larry Block(@webmaster)
1 month ago
Reply to  Michael Dolan

The article has been updated, – thank you

Keep your day job
Keep your day job
1 month ago
Reply to  Joe Bologna

The sad thing is that you think you’re funny!

Click to Hide Advanced Floating Content

0
0
votes
Article Rating
16
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x