Local fitness center, The Gym, originally opened as Gold’s Gym, closed its doors unexpectedly in late December. Cordele’s Impact Sports and Fitness will now be moving into the old facility. (Staff Photo: Brad McEwen)
ALBANY — The Gym, an Albany fitness center in northwest Albany, closed its doors unexpectedly in late December, but a new fitness center will soon open in its place.
The Gym, opened by owner Barbara Arnold of Leesburg as a Gold’s Gym in 1991 and changed its name in 2006, was closed in late December after Arnold decided to retire from the fitness business and to not renew the lease on the property.
“We chose not to renew the lease and we retired from the gym business,” Arnold said. “It was time for us to move on.”
Arnold said after she had informed the property owner, Turton Properties, that she was not renewing the lease, Turton representatives told her they had another fitness company interested in taking over the property.
That company, Impact Sports and Fitness of Cordele, has agreed to lease the space and the equipment from Turton Properties and will open a second Impact facility in the former The Gym location at Dawson Road and Westover Boulevard.
Jamie Fernandez, owner of Impact, said the Cordele facility has been in business 11 years and he has been looking to expand into another market for some time. He said that when he was contacted about the possibility of moving into Albany, he took it.
“We’re very excited,” Fernandez said. “We think Albany is a great market and we’re excited about bringing a little bit more training to this area. We do a good bit of kids’ performance stuff and athletes.”
In fact, it’s the training aspect and kid-friendly atmosphere that has been a success at the Cordele location that Fernandez feels will make Impact Sports and Fitness a success in Albany.
“Again, we’ll have a lot more training and a lot more personal training options,” Fernandez said. “The area up top will actually be a turfed area so we can do some agility stuff with kids.
“I think we’ve kind of positioned ourselves as a family club. We both, me and my wife, have two children and the days of getting home and playing with the kids are few and far between, so we think providing a facility where the kids can do their training and mom and dad can work out is something we want to present here.”
Before Fernandez can present the club to the Albany market, however, he said he must complete interior renovations to the facility. Fernandez said the equipment that was being used by The Gym was deeded over to him by the property owner, but he wants to bring in additional equipment and make other changes to complete his vision for the location.
“The landlord assumed the equipment and deeded it over to us, but we’re going to add some new stuff,” Fernandez said. “The club needed some updating. So we’re bringing in a little more of a training facility.”
Another obstacle that Fernandez is going to have to overcome in opening the new fitness club is confusion surrounding the fact that Impact Sports and Fitness is in no way affiliated with The Gym or Arnold.
Arnold said when she decided to close The Gym she was told the new club would reopen fairly quickly, so she felt the transition would be smooth and not too much of an inconvenience for members.
“We were trying to make the transition as smooth as possible,” Arnold said. “It was supposed to open within four days of closing.”
To that end, Arnold allowed Fernandez to place signage on the door informing customers that the new facility would open soon. Subsequent signs also addressed another issue: what Gym customers could expect as far as receiving possible refunds for memberships started or renewed at the club prior to its closing.
The current sign instructs Gym members to contact the previous owner, Arnold, with any questions concerning their memberships.
For her part, Arnold said she is working on a case by case basis to take care of any Gym customers wishing to receive a refund.
“We’re trying to look at it on a case by case basis,” Arnold said. “I didn’t try to mislead anybody. I’m sorry it’s been an inconvenience to the members.”
Arnold said anyone who feels that they are entitled to a refund needs to contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. She also said those wishing to seek a refund needed to provide proof of membership in the form of a copy of the contract and receipt of payment.
Arnold said some people have already contacted her and that she has taken care of them. She also said Fernandez informed her he would try to work out something with Gym members wanting to try out the new club and would also interview Gym employees for possible jobs.
Fernandez confirmed that saying that he intends to offer memberships to Gym members for the number of months remaining on their Gym contracts up to three months, at which time they can join Impact Sports and Fitness.
“Any of the members that we can find any records of that were members of the Gym, we’re offering up to three months, however many months they had left up to three months, at our new facility,” said Fernandez. “At that point they can sign up for our club at $19.99 a month.”