[Update, Tuesday, December 21]
LA Fitness has now decided to honor Bally lifetime memberships in full, including nationwide access. Story here.
[UPDATE, Wednesday, December 7, 12:57 p.m.]
Patch is now receiving reader reports that Bally lifetime membership holders are able to verify their information and contract with LA Fitness at this site. Several users said that while it appears that the contract they had previously is now being accepted by LA fitness, it shows an expiration date of 12/1/2014.
This appears to be consistent with what Paul Norris, principal at LA Fitness, told Patch in a phone conversation earlier this week. Norris stated that lifetime members would initially be given a three year membership, at no cost the first year, and then $1 for each following year.
Patch's understanding was that this would then be "re-upped" for $1 a year in continual contracts. However, agreements could be different for each individual based on their unique contract, and whether or not they have already signed a new agreement with LA Fitness. According to Norris, the company will be putting out a press release in the near future to officially explain offerings. Patch recommends members wait until that release, and also thoroughly review any contract, before signing.
To see if your contract is being recognized by LA Fitness, follow these instructions:
- Visit lafitness.com/Pages/Announcement.aspx, and click on the box that says verify your account.
- It may be necessary to try different variations of your name, including abbreviated initials, and also entering the zip code and phone number used when first signing up for a Bally's membership. According to some users, the keytag number is the first initial of your last name, and then the numbers from your Bally's ID card, excluding the first four zeroes.
[UPDATE, Monday, December 5, 8:17 p.m.] After the publication of this report, a number of readers contacted Patch to say that LA Fitness location managers told them they would not be honoring lifetime memberships. Upon attempting to contact these locations, we were informed that managers had been instructed to direct all media inquires to the company's Irvine, California offices.
Patch reached back out to Paul Norris, principal at LA Fitness, who further clarified by stating that the decision to honor lifetime memberships had not yet been relayed to all locations, but that the lifetime memberships would be honored.
"We're going to get a statement out on our website, and condense all the information into one spot, right on the front page," said Norris, adding that the message should come within several days.
Norris also said that decisions regarding lifetime memberships were complicated by law, stating that lifetime memberships are now illegal in all but several states. However, Norris said the company viewed it as good customer service to find a way to honor the agreements.
"We don't want to disadvantage our members, especially the people who've been around for 20 years," Norris said. "We're doing it for good will. There's not many [lifetime members], but we don't want anybody to be at a disadvantage."
Although official details are pending the company's statement and may be unique to each customer, depending on the terms of their original contract, Norris said that a lifetime customer would be offered the chance to sign an LA fitness agreement that would allow them to continue to visit the location for one dollar a year, in order to keep the agreements legal.
In addition, Norris said that for those interested in being able to visit any other LA Fitness location in their respective state, LA fitness would offer a special rate of $19.99 a month for membership.
Finally, Norris said that all LA Fitness locations formerly owned by Bally's would allow members to continue to visit throughout December without signing any new agreements.
[Original report, Monday 5:00 p.m.]
Bally Fitness members upset with the changes stemming from a purchase by LA Fitness may now find some relief, as the company has decided to honor lifetime membership agreements, according to Paul Norris, principal for LA Fitness, who called Patch.
On Sunday, Patch reported that a number of local residents were frustrated after the Bally's Total Fitness location in Willow Grove became one of 171 across the country to be purchased by LA Fitness.
According to members, LA Fitness representatives told them last week that Bally's lifetime memberships, some of which were purchased for thousands of dollars, would not be honored in the switch. Patch follow-up calls to local LA Fitness centers confirmed this information.
However, according to Norris, who called Patch Monday afternoon, those memberships will now be honored.
"The [lifetime] memberships weren't purchased and weren't part of our responsibility, but we've made the decision to honor those lifetime memberships," said Norris. "We certainly don't want to disadvantage any members, or former members, of Bally's."
When asked when that decision was made, Norris said that the company had difficulty communicating its policies to all locations after heavy winds knocked down telephone wires at the company's Irvine, California offices.
"The acquisition was an assets sale. Lifetime memberships were not a part of the acquisition, and we're sorry it wasn't communicated to all involved," said Norris. "The day we did this acquisition we had 70 mile per hour winds in Los Angeles and the lines were knocked out," Norris said.
When asked what procedure members would now need to follow to become lifetime members of LA Fitness, Norris said it could be done in a visit to any of the newly owned locations.
"[Members] need to sign an agreement to allow them entry, but it would be virtually the same terms of the agreement they have now," Norris said.
According to a ClubIndustry.com article, the Willow Grove location is one of 171 Bally's facilities sold nationwide to LA Fitness for approximately $153 million. The sale included 13 in the Philadelphia region, of which four will close and nine will continue to operate under the LA Fitness banner, including the Willow Grove location. Bally's now operates 100 locations in the U.S., while the addition boosts LA Fitness from 360 to 538 clubs.
Patch will check in with its readers this week to confirm they are able to convert their lifetime membership. Please check back for additional coverage. To see our original coverage of the story, click here.