West Seattle businesses: Allstar Fitness says operations ‘strong,’ unchanged by Chapter 11 filing

October 22, 2012 at 1:30 am | In Allstar Fitness bankruptcy, West Seattle businesses, West Seattle news | 32 Comments

Management at Allstar Fitness says it plans to send a letter to its members explaining that its recent Chapter 11 filing is not affecting and will not change membership services and operations. We sought out Allstar management/ownership after receiving inquiries from members who said the filing was the subject of rumors; we also have reviewed court documents. The filing in the Western Washington division of United States Bankruptcy Court, under the company’s official name West Seattle Fitness LLC, actually happened in late August, as Allstar general manager Ramon Velasquez pointed out in a conversation with WSB researcher/editorial assistant Katie Meyer. He says the club’s daily operations, including hours, classes, and staff, have not and will not be affected by the proceedings, and that the forthcoming letter to members will include that information. Velasquez told WSB that memberships will not be affected and that there has been no interruption in employee wages, health coverage, vacations, etc. He says the club’s operations are strong and that last month was their best September ever for memberships. (Chapter 11 is a bankruptcy filing for reorganization, as explained on this federal-government page.) Photo: King County Assessor website

32 Comments

  1. Since they are supposedly going so strong it would sure be nice if they invested in some regular maintenance! Broken equipment, t.v.s from the 80′s & a pool that might get cleaned twice a month if we’re lucky. I’m just hoping L.A. fitness moves into the area to give them some competition. I know where I’d move my membership!

    Comment by David — 7:44 am October 22, 2012 #

  2. David – what did management say when you talked with them about your concerns?
    .
    Just a reminder to all that WSB rules, for the Forum and comments, are that complaints about businesses must include mention of how the concern was taken to management/ownership before posting about it, and what kind of reply you got/action was taken … TR

    Comment by WSB — 8:04 am October 22, 2012 #

  3. Hey TR,

    You make a really good point. I have not actually brought my concerns up with management because I assumed that if they weren’t putting the effort into maintaining their facilities, they really didn’t care. I will talk with them before our membership is up for renewal, though, and see what they say. Have a great day!

    Comment by David — 8:21 am October 22, 2012 #

  4. Will never go back. Horrible place.

    And yes, my wife and I have had MANY discussions with Management.

    Comment by Velo_nut — 8:31 am October 22, 2012 #

  5. My husband and I have been members for the last four years and I can’t say this is a shock. Though we’ve generally enjoyed our membership for most of the time, the lack of upkeep has become a problem in the last two years. Given the downtown location closed/changed ownership and the News Tribune article published on 3/22/12 siting a dispute with the property owner regarding back rent, it seems clear there’s been a shift in their financials. To be fair, there wasn’t a court decision published (that I found) finding any fault on the part of Allstar. However, disputes of that nature are a common precursor to more apparent financial distress.

    Comment by Mrs Tiggy Wiggle — 8:31 am October 22, 2012 #

  6. Maybe they can explain why it took 7 weeks to “notify” the membership too.

    Comment by george — 10:02 am October 22, 2012 #

  7. I guess I’m on my own when I say you get what you pay for.

    I pay $40/month. I get FREE child care and my children can swim for FREE ANYTIME. The ladies working in the daycare are usually really busy and plop the kids in front of a tv, but it’s free and my child isn’t forced to sit and watch. She can play, color, read, and run much as she wants.

    Yes, there are issues, but it seems that no one speaks up to management. Just complains in the sauna and recently repaired steam room.

    I don’t see the NECESSITY of brand new televisions etc. It works. It serves it’s purpose.

    Comment by NorDel — 10:03 am October 22, 2012 #

  8. I agree with the above comments that the equipment maintenance at Allstar has been subpar. I did not bother to complain to management because it didn’t seem like this could possibly be an issue of which they were unaware.

    Comment by Daldart — 10:04 am October 22, 2012 #

  9. I love going to AllStar Fitness. I mostly go there to lap swim, so I can’t really comment on the machines upstairs. Or the age of the televisions (really? You join a gym and complain that the televisions are old?) But I know people who go to other gyms, and Allstar isn’t the only one that’s had machines in disrepair.
    .
    My perspective is that the pool and locker room are as clean as any I’ve been to.
    .
    It has been VERY easy to park lately, which certainly indicates there’s been a decrease in membership, but my enjoyment of the pool has never been higher.

    Comment by Lura Ercolano — 10:28 am October 22, 2012 #

  10. I’ve had NUMEROUS opportunities to contact management, both through their written ‘comment sheets’ and through direct email with accounting and with Ramon. The only issue they ever addressed was how money I paid for swim lessons was assigned to someone else at the downtown club – and that took two weeks.
    .
    HIgh praise for Barbara Jones, the swim teacher; for Jennifer Cepeda and Nelson E. teaching Zumba; and for the kids playspace that’s large enough for kids to really run around in.
    .
    Broken and grimy bathrooms, broken fans and poor ventilation never got more than a shrug. It seems that, despite how hard the housekeeping staff works, there’s ZERO care or commitment to facility maintenance in favor of lots of emphasis on having a large staff of smarmy sales dudes.

    Comment by Irukandji — 11:32 am October 22, 2012 #

  11. I work for the YMCA (free membership) and live 5 minutes walk from 24 HF but I choose to go to Allstar. All the complains above are true but it is by far the best gym in WS, clean, stuff is very nice, anyone can have recreational swim anytime, child care is free.
    I love that the instructors are all certified and the classes are phenomenal (classes all day).

    Comment by NT — 11:50 am October 22, 2012 #

  12. I agree with NT. All the above complaints are true, but it’s still the best gym in W Seattle. Unless another gym moves in, there’s no point in complaining, since they do not need to improve to remain #1.
    .
    The straw that broke the camel’s back for me was learning that many members pay only $40 per month. I paid $60. I tried contacting management about it, was ignored, and closed my account. Now I’m fat. :/

    Comment by Robot — 12:33 pm October 22, 2012 #

  13. There’s plenty of free workouts on the ol’ internet…mind you they don’t have free daycare or swimming pools..
    bodyrock.tv
    barstarzz.com

    Comment by Happy — 12:47 pm October 22, 2012 #

  14. As one of the investors they’re looking to discharge with the Chapter 11 filing I feel incredibly misled.
    .
    Last year All-star was aggressively soliciting investments to take over a gym in Issaquah. They recently missed the first repayment date. The explanation letter, which arrived a month later, indicated a minor hitch they were working to fix.
    .
    Thanks to WSB for informing me of the real situation so I can now work towards salvaging what I can.

    Comment by Just Got Burned — 1:00 pm October 22, 2012 #

  15. I agree with NT. I don’t need (and don’t pay for) new TVs, and I don’t mind a broken shampoo dispenser once in a while. The things that matter are great: awesome classes and instructors, wonderful (free) child care, good quality equipment and lots of it. Even if a piece of equipment is down, I’ve never had to wait to get on another one. It’s clean and family-friendly. I see my friends and neighbors there, and the hours are set so I can actually use it. I’ve been to other gyms with TVs and sound systems blaring, where the gym feels like a nightclub with people dressed up only to be seen. I prefer being comfortable at AllStar.

    Comment by D — 1:02 pm October 22, 2012 #

  16. Thanks for the supportive comments. I promise we are trying our best. We have 7,000 members using this club, so it can be a challenge to keep it the way we need to. We do work hard, and we do care about the members. We did not do a good job of routine maintenance under a previous Facilities Director, and we are paying for that now. We have actually done more maintenace over the last year than we’ve done here in a very long time, and we are not going to stop. I would like new equipment and TV’s as well, but we have maintenance issues and other things that are taking precedence. We are obviously trying to put our company in a stronger position as well. The economy and other things have taken a toll, but we will continue to serve this community. I understand that with 7,000 members, the ones that have been wronged will comment on blogs like this. If you feel like you have been wronged by us, and it has not been made right, please give me an opportunity. You can e-mail me directly at ramonv@allstarfitness.com. Ramon

    Comment by Ramon — 3:10 pm October 22, 2012 #

  17. Thanks, Ramon. Just one correction, however; WSB is not a “blog” (our name is an unfortunate legacy of the site’s origins). WSB is a journalist-owned/operated news site and this is a news story. If you note my comment above, we do have commenting rules, while in fact “old media” news websites generally do not have the same type of rules regarding business stories (among other types). Those who have something positive to say are as welcome to say it here as those who – if they have already notified management – have a possibly relevant beef. We reported and published this story because we’ve received multiple e-mails over the past few weeks from people asking about reports/rumors of a bankruptcy filing, and we finally had a chance to check it out and see if it were true, both by checking the documents and calling your company for comment. Thanks for talking with researcher Katie twice over the course of two days so that we could get accurate information – TR (editor)

    Comment by WSB — 3:29 pm October 22, 2012 #

  18. No problem TR, and I apologize for the incorrect label. :)

    Comment by Ramon — 4:29 pm October 22, 2012 #

  19. My husband and I have been very frustrated with the maintenance, as well. However, Ramon has listened and then done his best to take action in each case that we’ve brought up (like a rusted door bottom and a shower head that popped off mid-shower). So thanks, TR, for reminding us to be fair in our comments.

    Comment by 44th Neighbor — 4:29 pm October 22, 2012 #

  20. Looks like new members are taking the brunt of the costs. My membership is less than a month old and $70! Feeling stiffed.
    I have seen the obvious maintenance issues but I am more than impressed by the caliber of the classes and the instructors and I feel it makes up for it. There is hope here.

    Comment by ouchy — 4:56 pm October 22, 2012 #

  21. I can check out your options to see why your rate is $70. That does seem high. Come by and ask for me when you are in next. Ramon

    Comment by Ramon — 5:10 pm October 22, 2012 #

  22. I agree with all of the other comments above. I have been a member since 2009, and things have definitely deteriorated in the past year. Equipment in the women’s work out area has been broken for months with signs saying parts are on order. I think those signs are on 3/6 elliptical machines in the area? If you have 7000 members at one facility, each paying at least $40 a month–many of us paying much more, myself included, you are clearly mismanaging funds. Which I guess is apparent considering the Chapter 11 re-org. I too will be happy when LA Fitness opens in the junction area, AllStar needs some competition besides the YMCA. I have worked out in worse facilities. However, I have also worked out in much nicer facilities with dues on par to Allstar, which are on the higher end for a fitness club, considering what they offer. Side note–a law firm I clerked at one summer brought a class action against the Tacoma facility for taking club fees from members, and then not refunding them when they shut down. I know the corporation had to pay a fairly large settlement for that.

    Comment by sb2780 — 5:30 pm October 22, 2012 #

  23. I was a member at All Star from 2007 – 2011. I paid in advance annually which averaged out to $50 per month.
    In 2011, I moved out of the city with 8 months left on my pre-paid gym membership. As a loyal and responsible gym member, I expected to get a refund for these remaining months. For several weeks, I attempted to get ahold of someone that could help me – at the front desk in person (apparently they “somehow” could never get ahold of Ramon), I left messages with their account managers only to NEVER get a return call, and finally emailed Ramon. And unfortunately, I did not even get a response.

    I was so frustrated. I still want my ~$320 back. And now that I’m back in the WS area, they are bombarding my email inbox that “WE WANT YOU BACK!” – subject heading in all caps. And had I been treated better in my transitional period, I would have joined back up. Not now, not ever.

    Comment by SaraS — 6:39 pm October 22, 2012 #

  24. To be fair to Allstar, I re-signed for 18 months up front which breaks down to just over $40/month minus annual fees (divided up- I’m looking more at $50/month. My mistake.

    Comment by NorDel — 9:57 pm October 22, 2012 #

  25. As a member of Allstar Fitness for about a year, my biggest dislike regards cleanliness…of the pool, moldy floors in the locker room (carpets, really, in a locker room where people are dripping wet from the swimming pool?!), and hot tub. I realized I experienced a pretty significant allergic reaction in the hot tub a few times and subsequently heard from 3 friends that they had the same reaction during the same 2-month time-frame. I spoke to Ramon in person about this. He told me he would follow-up with the maintenance person and email me with an update. Despite the fact that he took down my email address, I never heard from him.

    Comment by m — 10:03 pm October 22, 2012 #

  26. Thanks for the reminder about the “investment opportunity.” I recall now that just before I ended my membership I got a postcard, asking me to invest some thousands of dollars in the company for them to expand. It promised a healthy return on investment, and was actually somewhat tempting. The only reason I didn’t do it was that I realized most legit investment opportunities don’t show up via junkmail! :)
    .
    I had forgotten about it, but now I see that if I’d fallen for that trick, I would now be in very serious danger of my “investment” disappearing entirely. Very shady stuff…
    .
    This is a good reminder to follow your gut instincts when people ask you for money…

    Comment by Robot — 3:02 pm October 23, 2012 #

  27. On the prepaid membership, we don’t prorate because the year is not fulfilled at that point, which is the reason people get the discount on a prepaid membership. With a refund, you need to show proof of moving 25 miles away, and that is explained upon purchase since we also have month to month options available. If you did this, e-mail me and I will look into it.

    We don’t have mold in the locker rooms, and it is not possible for it to be in our Jacuzzi. We have had numerous health department tests because members have claimed this due to the discoloration that occurred over time and stains from the chemicals. Mold cannot grow with the chemicals that are used in the pool and Jacuzzi. I apologize if I didn’t get back to you, and I am not aware of allergic reactions from our Jacuzzi. I may have lost your e-mail, but I don’t just refuse to get back to members. I am involved in full-time sales here along with managing the club and all member issues. I am one person, and I am not perfect with my organization all the time. I really am sorry for not getting back to you though. I get thousands (literally) of e-mails a week, most of them ending up in my junk folder. You can e-mail my Facilities Director Michael for more specifics regarding the pool and Jacuzzi mjones@allstarfitness.com. Ramon

    Comment by Ramon — 3:08 pm October 23, 2012 #

  28. There’s always risk if you choose to invest in something like that. But I got those postcards too (2 of them as I recall, just in case I missed the first one) and remember thinking it was very odd that they were randomly soliciting members for large sums of money. Seemed more like a cry for help than a positive way to finance an expansion. Needless to say, the postcards ended up in the recycle bin. :)

    I’ve been a member at All Star for about 2 years and I’d say my feeling on it is “Meh.” But the Y is actually more expensive and offers less, in a very cramped space; and 24 Hour Fitness is too far from me to be an option (plus I’ve heard it’s worse).

    Comment by Peabody — 3:16 pm October 23, 2012 #

  29. I have been at All Star (WS) since it opened, over 10 years, and it has always been one of the most consistently well run gyms in town. Due to my occupation, I have had memberships at, literally every gym in town. Hands-down, ASWS is the best over-all facility in town if you factor in accessibility, quality of instructors, spaciousness of facility, variety of fitness opportunities and equipment available, and extremely reasonable price to boot! Similar facilities are easily twice the price, and if we were in California, they would be three times as much for membership.
    Lastly, you cant buy “great community”, if you go chasing the latest flashy new thing. All Star has long term members, and that makes real community. This year, that very community got together to raise enormous funds for one of its own to deal with brain cancer. 24 hour might have good marketing, but it can never have community.

    Comment by Mike — 1:46 pm October 29, 2012 #

  30. Thanks so much for the great comment Mike! I agree with what you said, and it’s nice to hear good things too. I love the members at this club, and although we may not please everyone, this is still an amazing club for the price. Free childcare, towel service, Group X, and all the amenities for under $50 a month? Even if I didn’t work here, I would workout at this club. I have five kids though, so…. :) Thanks though Mike, you made a lot of the employees who really do care about what they do very happy. Some things are out of our control, but we really do try our best.

    Comment by Ramon — 5:07 pm October 30, 2012 #

  31. I just found out about the bankruptcy from the BBB website (which gives the parent corporation an F, by the way). I’ve tried to contact Ramon several times to get info on when certain machines will be repaired/replaced (Stairmasters) with no response. I’ve also emailed Bob who is listed on the BBB site as the parent corporate owner (and your contact for that great “investment opportunity”). Hope to hear something but my husband and I are really hoping, along with others in the comments, for that LA Fitness… BBB: http://www.bbb.org/western-washington/business-reviews/health-clubs/west-seattle-fitness-in-seattle-wa-27026909

    Comment by Susan L — 1:48 pm November 6, 2012 #

  32. People, people, you are expecting the Beverly Hilton luxury when your only paying for the Best Western. There are plenty of private gyms out there that with the right amount of money you will get all those crazy amenities you “dream” of. I personally love the people at all star, they are great. It’s a gym, with gym equipment, to work out, not to be glamorous. I’m personally happy paying my 40 something dollars and I’m getting what I pay for, gym equipment, comunity, and convenience.

    Here are some example fees of certain gyms in Seattle if your not happy at all star, I’m sure you have that extra cash laying around to spare.

    -Zum 468 to join, 120 a month
    -David Barton 534 to join fees start at 98 a month can go as high as 300 a month
    -Medina gym 400 to join 89 a month

    Comment by Juan — 11:20 am November 8, 2012 #

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