The Bally Total Fitness on Forsyth Boulevard in University City has been telling patrons that it will reopen November 1, five months after it was shuttered by fire.
But that's news to University City, which will have to complete a series of inspections before the gym can open its doors to the public. A U. City staffer tells Daily RFT that Bally hasn't even called to schedule many of the inspections yet.
"We do these inspections to make sure it's safe to go back in after the fire damage," says LaKisha Mosley, an advanced clerk/typist for the community development department. "As of right now, they have not scheduled them yet. We're just waiting for them."
The gym closed after a fire in early June. Ever since, as Bally's members have been griping on Facebook and Yelp, they've been told that the reopening is just around the corner.
Indeed, an employee who answered the phone at the number listed for Bally Total Fitness at 7393 Forsyth Boulevard insisted to Daily RFT that the November 1 date was firm. But when we placed a call to the company's corporate headquarters in Illinois, we didn't get a call back. And based on what we're hearing from University City, Bally members would be wise to -- once again -- not get their hopes up.
Mosley, of the U. City community development department, tells Daily RFT that it usually takes about a week to get an inspection after a business requests one. Considering that Bally has yet to book inspections for electrical work and fire safety, among others, that November 1 date may be pretty tough to hit -- news that will surely displease the gym's members.
After the fire, members say, they were told to use the Bally franchise on Dorsett Road in Maryland Heights instead. And a Bally representative responding to complaints at yelp.com estimated the U. City location would be closed for 30 to 45 days.
But June became July, and then August. The opening date was pushed back to late August, then Labor Day. At one point, a patron talked to a staffer and reported on Facebook that the very definite-sounding September 20 was the date. That day, too, came and went.
Adding insult to injury, members say that of Bally Total Fitness has continued to charge them during the closure. (The chain has been criticized in the past for making it difficult to cancel memberships under the best of circumstances.)
As one member vented on Facebook:
Here it is, past September 20 (as also quoted to me as an ETA for the Bally's ... to reopen). I thought that it might be wise to call prior to traveling there and the man who answered the phone said "Yes, we're still waiting for University City to come in." I suppose he was referring to an inspection of some sort but he said he didn't know when it would happen. This whole situation has been kind of managed poorly.
First, we heard:
"a month" from the time it happened
"it should be August"
"Definitely no later than Labor Day" (in August)
"September 20, we will open!"
"Now, we're waiting for University City."
I pay annually and when my renewal comes due early next year, I'll be mentioning all of these shenanigans.
Another member wrote last month:
It is an absolute joke. I'm month to month at [the Forsyth Blvd Bally's] and just tried to cancel. I didn't realize all the hoops they make you jump through. No one at Dorsett can cancel my membership and they tell me I need to send a certified letter to some remote PO Box. I spent 45 minutes on the phone and did not talk to a single person. Their website and phone system are purposely designed to be confusing/uninformative. The Dorsett manager justified this by saying it was an industry standard. If anyone is thinking about joining a gym in U City/Clayton, this is not the place to go.
So will the dawning of November 1 allow these gym rats to get back to their workout (without having to drive to Maryland Heights to do it)? Or will it be yet another blown deadline to dash their hopes?
For now, we'd bet on the latter. But if we hear anything from Bally's corporate office, we'll definitely let you know.