West Seattle Health Club update: Hoping to open Sunday

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Members of the abruptly shuttered West Seattle (Athletic) Club are wondering when its successor, the West Seattle Health Club, will open.

We talked this afternoon with Dan Lehr, who is managing the transition for property owner John Pietromonaco, who is now the club owner too.

“Possibly as early as Sunday, maybe sooner,” Lehr told WSB in a phone conversation.

“We were hoping for tomorrow, but I don’t think it’s going to happen.” Since they’ll be opening “without computers,” he says, “my thought is that we’re just going to let people come in for free, the entire community, even if you’re not a member.”

Regarding the e-mail sent to WS (Athletic) Club members yesterday (WSB coverage here), signed in the name of WSAC owner Sam Adams, Lehr dismissed the allegations as “complete bull.” Among them, the e-mail’s claim that all membership records would be destroyed.

That’s not possible, Lehr said, because the digital version of those records “is in the cloud.” Lehr said he has contacted “the people who do the billing and I shut off Sam’s account. As of today, nobody can be billed (by the previous club)… it physically couldn’t happen. Now what we’re trying to do is, see if we can port over all the membership info so we could sort through all that” and see about transferring memberships, extending them for the time lost while the club has been closed, etc.

Lehr says they have retained the “key executive staff, key management … obviously let a few people go who were kind of aligned with Sam (and who) we felt weren’t going to be a good fit moving forward.” Today, they were setting up a new payroll account “and hoping … to port over all the employee information to us so we can seamlessly move into payroll.”

But what that means for time worked before the previous club closed, isn’t yet clear, Lehr cautions. “We have not decided how/if we’re going to cover any of the payroll that Sam (had) due … his checks went out on the 28th, he claims … we’ll see if any of them are good … (and then) we’ll decide what to do.”

What about the pool? we asked. “That’s the biggest problem right now; it’s going to be down for a good three weeks. Since (Adams) drained it, we’re going to take that opportunity to paint the inside of the metal canopy on the ceiling, fix the lights, a lot of pool equipment that was in a state of disrepair, fixing that as we speak … lot of electrical issues, it wasn’t being ventilated, fixing that … fixing the HVAC and that started on Monday and I believe that continues as we speak. They have to order some parts for some of the compressors, the locker rooms and the pool area.”

What about the equipment, since Adams removed some if not most of it? Lehr says the “stuff that does work” is in the third-floor cardio area. They’ve concentrated “anything that doesn’t work” into what had been the “women’s only” area, temporarily. And now, repairs will begin. Plus, they put in orders yesterday for $538,000 worth of new equipment, described by Lehr as “all new cardio, lots of new group fitness equipment, all new free weights … dumbbells, barbells, plates … (and) some really cool functional fitness stuff.”

Lehr says they’ve also brought in supplies, “day-care stuff, we’re working on the furniture, TV’s are on order, computers are (on the way), and new security-system cameras are being installed.”

A commenter asked about Emerald City Smoothie, which has a location in the club’s lobby. “They will stay,” Lehr said. “We’ve been in contact with them and are meeting the owners on Saturday and looking at their agreement.”

Along with everything else mentioned, according to Lehr, the club has been cleaned and “a lot of painting is going on.”

One more question – what about the lockers? At least one WSB commenter mentioned having left some stuff in them. Lehr said they were supposed to just be for day use, so nothing should have been in them, but that said, a few do have locks, so they’re going to leave those be for now instead of going along with an original plan to cut the locks off.

To recap briefly, if you’re just coming in on this: After a somewhat turbulent year and a half of ownership, which followed the previous ownership’s sale of the club during bankruptcy proceedings, Sam Adams closed the club last week, with a notice saying it would be closed Thursday/Friday and would reopen Saturday; it did not reopen Saturday, and Lehr announced the property owner had taken it over and was creating a new club called the West Seattle Health Club.

48 Replies to "West Seattle Health Club update: Hoping to open Sunday"

  • kate October 30, 2014 (7:38 pm)

    Great news! Sign me up. I’m getting fat.

  • Alki4 October 30, 2014 (8:17 pm)

    I am ready!

  • LT October 30, 2014 (8:46 pm)

    Please, please open soon! I’ve tried everything this week (anytime, the y, 24hr, snap) and nothing compares.

  • Sweetie October 30, 2014 (9:05 pm)

    I really miss my gym community and I really miss my workouts there!
    Please please please open quickly
    My free trials for every other place around here are running out – and I don’t like them anyway

  • jj October 30, 2014 (9:05 pm)

    If they really are doing these things, this will be great. It’s funny because while the LA Fitness will be nice/new, it will only have a three lane pool and no way the parking is easy.
    I believe this club gets back up to “good,” it survives the LA Fitness coming to the area.

  • Tracey October 30, 2014 (9:12 pm)

    Please let Dan know that the club offered lockers for rent on a monthly basis. I was renting a small locker for a monthly fee and that is why my lock is still on it. Thank you!
    I cannot wait for the club to reopen. I am lost without it.

  • John October 30, 2014 (9:46 pm)

    I’ve missed it and will continue to miss many of my “gym” buddies who have left over the past several months…I’ve been a member since the first year and I’m looking forward to signing up again…hopefully with a pay-a-year-in-advance like we used to have…..15 months for the price of 12…..now that we’re back to an ownership that will not lie to it’s patrons or employees!

  • ChrisBean October 30, 2014 (9:48 pm)

    Thank you, again, WSB for getting the updates from Mr. Lehr. I’m glad he mentioned “day-care stuff” as I hope that means the Kids Club will be up and running again. I will definitely return to the club if that’s the case. Also glad to hear ECS will be staying, too!

  • WS mom October 30, 2014 (9:55 pm)

    I’ve been a member for 11 years, and am glad if a re-opening is imminent. I’m really anxious. However, I won’t be joining the new club until the women’s area on 2 is opened again.

  • evergreen October 30, 2014 (10:05 pm)

    I never joined because I hated the high pressure sales. It’s infuriating when a gym doesn’t post all of the fees up front, on paper and online, forcing us to meet with sales reps. If you could maintain transparency with the fee structure, and offer a monthly no-contract enrollment, I would join.

  • Paul October 30, 2014 (10:14 pm)

    I was an All-Star member for 11 years. I’ve missed going the last week although I did take up yoga elsewhere so that was great. Not sure if I’ll go back. WSB — thank you for the outstanding reporting; this is the best and most comprehensive news source out there!

  • kate October 30, 2014 (10:20 pm)

    SO happy to hear that the ceiling in the pool/sauna/ hot tub area is getting painted!! I’m happy to wait for repairs to happen; I’ve been waiting FIVE YEARS- what’s another few weeks/month? Also, I’m happy to pay higher dues once the club makes the repairs, stays legit and keeps things clean. I looked at Seattle Athletic Club- it’s around $125 a month plus over $300 in signing fee. Free parking for selected hours in the day plus a trip across the bridge. It’s a nice club, run very well for over 30 years but dated and SMALL. Keep me in West Seattle, please.

  • m October 30, 2014 (11:21 pm)

    Thank you so much, WSB, for your excellent reporting on this. This level of detail is not being provided anywhere else. I put a stop on my monthly payment withdrawal yesterday (my bank easily did that and waived the stop payment fee due to the circumstances). I will check out the club under the new ownership – I am cautiously optimistic.

  • mozabo October 30, 2014 (11:38 pm)

    I will rejoin as long as there is no initiation fee especially since I have gone there the last seven years. I would expect that month to month will still be an option as I
    won’t sign a year contract. I have always kept to month to month memberships.

  • Jj October 30, 2014 (11:56 pm)

    Seattle athletic club is the cream of the crop downtown. La fitness is $45/month for their top of the line signature club and $29/month for their basic club. If there are new spin bikes (not rusty flywheels and ripped saddles) and the pool is totally updated, it’s worth what la fitness charges.

  • Scotsman October 31, 2014 (12:37 am)

    Truly remarkable news. The club is been mismanaged and poorly run for years. That’s always been a real shame for such a remarkable facility. I’ve been a charter member of the club since before the first groundbreaking took place. I have longed for it to return to those days as a premier health club of its initial years. I wish this new ownership the best of success and admire their approach to restoring order. Go for it – you have my full support.

  • Mary Powers October 31, 2014 (6:10 am)

    Looking forward to swimming

  • mona October 31, 2014 (6:56 am)

    My family and I are looking forward to a re-opening, especially when the pool is up and running. That was where my kids both learned how to swim and I can’t wait to bring them back.

  • Fluffy October 31, 2014 (7:25 am)

    This is the best news ever. I am oh so excited! This past week has been not so favorable. Not being able to go to the gym has thrown my schedule & attitude way out of whack. I am looking forward to getting back on track and seeing my 5am die hard gym buddies. Cheers to moving in the right direction!!

  • PG Carr October 31, 2014 (7:49 am)

    VERY cautiously optimistic. Miss the place bad but also will probably adopt a “Wait and see” approach. I’ve heard the promises before (legions of them) only to see them broken again and again. I was one of the biggest defenders of this place even up to the end, but this whole debacle has made me dubious to say the least

  • norland October 31, 2014 (8:32 am)

    I really like the facility and hope it reopens—–plenty of parking and lots of workout space!!!!!

  • mm October 31, 2014 (9:33 am)

    I hope the mens showers were addressed! What phone number is available to call? I don’t want to make unnessary trips to the gym?

  • coleman October 31, 2014 (9:36 am)

    I think I have gained 10 pounds this week. I need my fix.

  • HEADS UP PEOPLE October 31, 2014 (10:20 am)

    I am very cautiously optimistic too. I would go back and pay a reasonable rate after many years if they pull it ALL together.

    Somebody mentioned the annual rate + 3 months extra. That was a sweet incentive back in the day, fyi. I would also like to see rational provisions for cancellations without the ultra-obnoxious gauntlet many needed to navigate to close their accounts.

    For my dollar to be yours, I would hope your group had included a professional inspection with an A+ for mold and pathogens etc. in that HVAC system and all carpeted areas as well.

    Online payments, paperless invoicing and digital communications for prompt messaging of current customers with a professional functional website interface with professional administration. Beware cloud systems and quality of administrators and quality of software. Might be prudent to NOT go to the cloud yet. OR. Don’t pinch pennies there. Just a thought.

    Women’s gym would need to be completely opened up.

    We’ll see.

  • Cathy October 31, 2014 (10:30 am)

    Dan,
    Just tell us directly when your opening so we can plan to come In & sign up. Please.be prepared so our first experience with you, signing up, isn’t a horrible confusing mess. Having a first positive experience is a great way to gain community support…or we’ll all head off to 24 hour when it opens. “Maybe Sunday or earlier” doesn’t really tell me when to show up.

    • WSB October 31, 2014 (10:38 am)

      As of our conversation, they weren’t sure. We will publish an update when we get official word, including anything they set up to directly communicate with customers – web, phone, whatever.

  • CZ October 31, 2014 (10:44 am)

    Have been a member through thick and thin for 14 years, cannot wait for the pool to reopen! I am cautiously optimistic and really appreciate the openness in dealing with the mess that was left. I have tried another place for water aerobics…not nearly as good as the instructors were at the club. Hoping that everyone comes back and that promises are kept. Hope that the new club will keep the senior discount! Also, why not just tear out the moldy, smelly carpet in the women’s locker room, tile would be much more sanitary and easier to keep clean.

  • Kendra Williams October 31, 2014 (10:50 am)

    This looks positive. I talked with my bank (WSECU) yesterday about any charges from automatic monthly payments. Most banks can help you get those charges refunded if the charge was made in the last 60 days. You just fill out a form that is sent to VISA, and they refund you and go after Sam themselves.

    Unfortunately, those of you with yearly memberships that were paid over 60 days ago are out of luck unless there is a class action suit. Because Sam is personally bankrupt as well as his business, I don’t hold out any hope of getting any money back. I’m hoping the new owner will Grandfather in any yearly contracts. I sure hope so.

    • WSB October 31, 2014 (11:21 am)

      Kendra – I’m not a bankruptcy lawyer so I don’t know the ramifications of the following, but two things:
      .
      West Seattle Club did not file for bankruptcy. It simply abruptly closed. What that means for your rights, I’m not sure, but there was no business bankruptcy filing – I just checked the fed system again.
      .
      Adams’ personal Chapter 11 filing is still a case in progress, and as I wrote a couple stories ago, there is a motion by the US Trustee to convert it to Chapter 7 *or* to dismiss it altogether; that will be heard in a couple weeks. Much in the files mentioned that the club was a key asset in his ability to reorganize, so now that it’s out of the picture …

  • Brandy October 31, 2014 (11:01 am)

    I’ve been watching this story unfold for a while and I’m truly hopeful the gym reopens soon with great success. Currently I go to South Seattle on Rainier Ave to get my gym fix. The boyfriend likes crossfit and I’ve been doing training. While I like the price there, the commute sucks. I’d much rather join a local gym, so my fingers are crossed.
    Thanks again WSB for keeping us updated, I can’t wait to see when they open how this all goes.

  • Jessica October 31, 2014 (11:11 am)

    So “if” it is on Sunday, do we just come in looking for Marcus and he will make sure we get taken care of like he has always done?

  • Bernie October 31, 2014 (11:53 am)

    Thank you WSB for all the efforts to keep club members who were not on the mailing list informed.
    After reading the opposing stories from the owner and Sam Adams I come to the conclusion that there is little hope in the immediate future for the club. Why should I now trust an owner who for years–I joined in 2005–refused to keep up and fix the infrastructure while soliciting us for financial partnerships with promises of high returns? I fear another con job in the making after another cosmetic enhancements.

  • Fluffy October 31, 2014 (12:19 pm)

    If you don’t trust em, don’t sign up.

  • Yvonne October 31, 2014 (12:35 pm)

    I am very hopeful that this new management/ownership will restore this club to what it was in the beginning. My membership was a source of frustration for many years with maintenance constantly failing to keep things up and running. The club needs a major overhaul and knowledgeable management. Maybe the third try is the charm! I will be back if there is significant improvement not promises. I think it would be best to stay closed until the club is a functional business not just asking members to come back to a half assed run facility. I miss the pool but am willing to wait until it is clean and safe from all the black mold surrounding it. I wish the new venture all the best to turn this neglected gem to it’s former beauty. Needs a LOT of polishing!!
    Yvonne

  • Karen October 31, 2014 (12:58 pm)

    I only used the pool so I hope it is reopened as soon as possible. Thanks WSB for keeping us updated since I am one of the members that never received emails you are my only source of information through all of this.

  • DBurger October 31, 2014 (1:20 pm)

    Yvonne, most of us do not want to wait for the club to be fully perfect before it reopens. It is my best option, I paid for a membership, and I want it back open ASAP. Bernie, the owner is not the person who solicited investments in another club, it was the former tenant that held the All-Star name. It sounds like the owner and his club manager are trustworthy, trying hard, and will make a good effort at restoring this club. It will take us, the clientele, to make that a reality, because he will need new memberships to pay the bills once the initial investment is complete. All of you hiding behind your keyboards and being negative Nancies need to knock it off. Everyone gets it, I promise. Let’s see some community positivity and rally in support of a new operator instead of dragging him into the muck right off the bat. I know I wouldn’t be inspired to do a good thing for the community if everyone were demanding and yapping and complaining and seeking their own personal agendas. Let’s help them make this work for a change! I see good things already. Perfection isn’t going to happen overnight, the club suffered years of neglect and abuse at the hands of the former tenants.

  • neighbor October 31, 2014 (2:57 pm)

    Just to be clear, there is no requirement for the club to honor anyone’s prepaid membership. Those memberships were purchased from a business that no longer exists.

    If the new business chooses to allow people to use the facility who have not paid *this current business* any dues, that will only make it more difficult for the new club to have any positive cash flow. And the scope of investment that’s been discussed here is going to require a major positive cash flow. Otherwise, we’ll see the same story of deferred maintenance and disrepair continuing to play out.

  • Keith October 31, 2014 (3:09 pm)

    Jj, where have you seen/heard that LA Fitness will have a 3-lane pool?
    Can’t believe people have been swimming in that janky cesspool at WSAC — I quit a year ago because it was so gross even then!

  • LT October 31, 2014 (5:26 pm)

    WSB/Dan Lehr — Any update? Open Saturday? Sunday? What’s the status? Eager to get back in there…

  • jj October 31, 2014 (6:01 pm)

    Keith… I spoke to the LA Fitness manager at their premium club in Ballard, also a three lane pool. He said that most all of their clubs use three lanes. Maybe one has four. Southcenter has three… the upcoming Burien location will have three and he said the West Seattle club will have three.

  • jj October 31, 2014 (6:12 pm)

    I stopped by the club at about 3pm today (friday) and talked to one of the guys the owner kept on. I don’t know his name but if you are a past club member, you would recognize him.
    He said that the new open day will be either Tuesday or Wednesday of next week. We talked a lot about things that are happening and I’m optimistic the club is going to improve past the best days it has seen in the last several years. All of the equipment was Sam Adams but he didn’t get it all out of the building so by law, it’s not his anymore. They are going to salvage and use the stuff that’s working and have ordered a lot of new stuff including some new spin bikes. The old black Lemond spin bikes that are working are in place and ready. He said that there is so much work going on, that they can’t wait to open when it’s done so even next week, there will be work going on everywhere. They don’t have computers and I got the impression they haven’t been able to access the member files and I’m not sure it’s theirs to access. I doubt Adams will want to help them so they are still trying to figure out how to let people in once the place is re-opened.
    If there is a silver lining to the pool, it’s that Adams drained it. That gives the owner now the easy decision of stripping the pealing paint on the ceiling and putting new paint that doesn’t peal from the moisture. They are going to clean the pool… fix the masonry work needed… he said new rope lanes, etc. But that’s 2-3 weeks before that part of the club is going.
    Broadly, it sounds like the owner is not doing the “just patch the flat.. run a broom… and let’s run it like before. It just seems like he is putting his back into this and there’s no reason why this place can’t be how it was 5 years ago.
    He said they will update the open date here on the Blog.

  • jj October 31, 2014 (8:02 pm)

    He said to check back here for the exact open day…

  • PG Carr October 31, 2014 (9:54 pm)

    Went by the building about a half hour ago (9:30) and people still working! it looks like they are putting some serious elbow grease into it. The pool still has that little bit of water, but there was some heavy equipment in there

    • WSB October 31, 2014 (10:16 pm)

      Thanks, PGC. I haven’t spoken with Dan Lehr since Thursday night, but will try to reach him tomorrow for an update if he doesn’t contact us first.

      • WSB November 1, 2014 (3:57 pm)

        Update: Tuesday is the day. There is also a quick basic website up at http://www.westseattlehc.com – I’m publishing a story in a bit with a little additional info. – TR

  • PG Carr November 1, 2014 (9:06 am)

    Thanks WSB.IT looks like they’re really working it. Will wait to see for an update

  • Skye November 2, 2014 (10:01 pm)

    Kate,
    I was a member of SAC. You get staff on the floor that has degrees in sportts £ fitness and siginifiant extras for this elite club. You will never get those benefits at W Health Club. Also, they have far superior facilities located in a premium neighborhood downtown that is super convenient and in a high income neighborhood. You are treated like gold at this club. WS club is in one of the highest crime zones in seattle, next to industrial and challenged for service staff. The instructors are amazing, but its a high risk place to park and for any females safety. So, I believe the member dues reflect all the above. Miss my work out buddies. But, I will be checking out LA fitness when they open. It will be an elite club and I would like my membership loyalty appreciation in the form of a great ran club.

    • WSB November 2, 2014 (10:15 pm)

      One correction, North Delridge, where the club is, is *not* one of the highest-crime zones in Seattle. Not even in West Seattle.

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