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LA Fitness Grants National Access to Disgruntled Bally Members

Former lifetime Bally members who felt wronged by an LA Fitness purchase will now be granted nationwide LA Fitness access.

It appears that lifetime Bally Total Fitness members, who earlier this month, will have a place to work off the holiday pounds after all.

According to a statement posted on the LA Fitness website late last week and follow-ups from Patch to previously unhappy customers, the company has doubled down on its decision to honor lifetime agreements, now to the satisfaction of almost all those affected.

" has decided to simplify the access rules and give all of the acquired Bally Total Fitness (“BTF”) members access to current LA Fitness clubs as described below," reads the statement, which also bullet points the following guidelines:

  • BTF “Local” Members will have access to LA Fitness clubs and acquired BTF clubs in the state of enrollment*;
  • BTF “National” Members will have access to those clubs in all states*; and
  • Acquired BTF members who only have single club access will continue to have access to that single club (or, if that club has closed, to another BTF or LAF club nearby).

*Except for New York clubs (unless you enrolled in NY) and clubs designated now or in the future as Signature and Athletic clubs.

Late November Deal Leaves Customers Angry

Word of the acquisition originally reached Patch after customers at the location on Dec. 4. LA Fitness had purchased 171 clubs throughout the country from Bally's, including 13 in the Philadelphia region, and all customer contracts at those locations, with the exception of lifetime memberships.

This left many customers, some of whom had paid thousands of dollars for their memberships up until federal law made the creation of such contracts illegal in the mid-'90s, feeling like they had been kicked to the curb.

“We’ve been members since 1984, ever since my husband and I got engaged,” said Upper Dublin resident Joan Tait, who paid roughly $2,000 for a lifetime membership. “There were years where we wouldn’t go at all, but for the last decade or so we’ve been going several times a week and never had to pay anything.”

Customers began to share similar stories and organize on message boards such as the Patch comment section and Ballyssuit.com, an online forum created by Michigan resident Jeff Levy with the ambitions of forming a class action law suit.

LA Fitness Announces They Will Honor Lifetime Memberships

Levy began speaking with attorneys from the Philadelphia-based law firm Berger and Montague, P.C., but before any litigation was filed, Paul Norris, principal for LA Fitness, contacted Patch and others to announce that the lifetime memberships. Norris told Patch this was done not because of a legal obligation, but as a service to customers.

"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."

Over the following weeks, many members began to report that their memberships were now being recognized by the LA Fitness computer systems.

Round Two: Customers Say They Should Have Nationwide Access

Still, many Bally's lifetime members were not satisfied and worried that a clause in the new LA Fitness contract allowed the company an 'out' to begin raising renewal fees. Many members also took issue with LA Fitness allowing access to only one or several area clubs, as opposed to the nationwide access they had as members of Bally's.

Patch spoke to a Philadelphia-based attorney about the complaints, who said that the customers had little legal ground to stand on.

"They're completely wrong about LA Fitness having an obligation to give them nationwide access," said the attorney, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "That claim would be dismissed. That's not the benefit of their bargain, their bargain is access to Bally's gyms."

However, according to its most recent statement, LA Fitness has now agreed to allow nationwide access to its members. Levy says the company should be credited.

"LA Fitness has been one hundred percent [helpful], they've gone over and above what they had to legally do," said Levy. "I had an attorney say to me 'no way you are going to get access to all the LA Fitness gyms, you didn't have that access before so you were never wronged.'" We should be praising LA Fitness."

Levy Says Ballyssuit.com Will Remain for Additional Issues

Some members on Ballyssuit.com continue to file complaints against the company, but other members involved in the process say that these are rare "worst case" scenarios. Many involve members whose lifetime memberships were originally purchased at a Bally's location that hadn't been purchased in the deal, but had been regularly using a different Bally's that was shutdown. Levy says he is still working with these cases on an individual basis, and has a direct contact to an LA Fitness representative who is responsive on requests.

"I get the [customer's] info, name, phone number, and can take that right to my [contact] and it goes right to corporate," said Levy. "He comes back and tells me if it's not going to get fixed and why, or he says that it is fixed and they're now in the system."

Levy originally planned to close the Ballyssuit.com site in late December, but says he now plans to leave it up through January in order to continue assisting former Bally's members. He told Patch that any readers who still have questions and complaints should post to the site's message board if they're not receiving satisfactory help from customer service representatives.

Levy says that he has administered the website out of a desire to help other customers, and despite being offered money from several grateful individuals, has refused.

"I did this out of a pure motive," said Levy. "Because of [news articles] and the Ballyssuit website, it gave the greatest gift of the season to Bally's Members."

Judy Hartman April 07, 2012 at 05:27 PM
I started out with a lifetime premier membership with Jack LaLane in 1987. This was transferred to Ballys at some point and as if January 2012 to LA Fitness. My annual renewal was $120. LA Fitness charged my credit card $204 for my annual renewal (my consent was given to Ballys and not for $204). Now they want me to sign a new contract with a $204 renewal. They told me I had to sign though as of yet I have not and have still been using the club. Any thoughts on that? If they purchase my contract don't they purchase the terms? Why do I need to sign a new contract?
pappy April 20, 2012 at 03:59 PM
Does anyone know where I can file complaint. I paid my membership anually for $99.00 but when LA Fitness took over all the cardiac machines when broken were not being fixed so we were promised new machines in April. It is now April and they are saying September. I dont even go to the gym because the very few machines they do have working are always busy. I have called and tried to place my account on hold and I was told I cant put my account on hold until after my prepaid membership expires and at that time I will only be paying $10.00 a month and I am charged $10.00 a month for dues does this not seem ridiculous? OMG where can I file a complaint
nancy May 17, 2012 at 12:34 PM
I have been working out at Ballys in new york I have a payed up lifetime membership purchased in NJ My club was bought by La Fitness I never made a Ny Ballys home gym They are closing all the Ballys and want me to upgrade because ny life time was nt purchased in ny If they close all the Ballys do they have to assigne me an La fitness gym without the upgrade I am being forced to concider when my membership is up in november/
nancy May 17, 2012 at 12:37 PM
I am living in ny and without worning got closed out of Ballys as one by one they closed I had a life time membership Is there any recorse what are my legal options beside upgrading Is there a class action suit being formed
Debbie May 18, 2012 at 02:54 PM
I live in MI and all the Bally's were sold to LA Fitness. Due to injury I didn't realize they were sold. I then went to get my membership updated to LA Fitness only to be told It wasn't bought in MI but in NC. My contract was sold to Blast Fitness. They are only allowing me to use the "home" facility where membership was originally bought. They don't even have any facilities in MI. They also informed me that they will only honor Bally's members for a year at which time members will have to pay Blast pricing with new membership. Trying to reach Jeff Levy to see if he can help. Please contact me at Debbietea@yahoo.com
Lisa May 18, 2012 at 10:13 PM
I also had a Bally's lifetime membership as well as a yearly one for my daughter. I am moving from MI (where there are LA Fitness locations) to Henderson NV and there are NO Ballys or LA Fitness there...now what?
Amie June 04, 2012 at 06:24 PM
I have a premier plus membership with balley (fully paid) and have been told I cannot access the LA fitness signature club with out an annual upgrade charge of $469 - the club proximal to where I work and where my balley club was closed - there is another LA club in chicago the service rep pointed out which is not a signature club - 20 city blocks away - not possible on my lunch hour. Has anyone been successful fight this??? My work offers an FFC membership at a song but for somereason I wanted to remain loyal!
Diana Banks June 11, 2012 at 07:37 PM
I am in the same situation as Debbie. I have been paying my nationwide membership annually since 1984 and opened my membership in St. Louis. I have been living in Los Angeles on a company assignment for 2 years and still own my home in St. Louis. I didn't change my address on my contract due to it being a nationwide contract allowing to visit any Ballys nationwide. My contract was bought out by in St. Louis and I'm living in Los Angeles. I wasn't informed of the change where I could have changed my address and been under the LA Fitness buyout. I am now in Los Angeles with a membership in a city I can't use it in. Trying to reach Jeff Levy to see if he can help. Please contact me at banksdiana@sbcglobal.net
Stephan June 12, 2012 at 02:09 PM
I had a lifetime membership with Ballys. It was transfered to L.A. Fitness and they allowed me to use the Ballys gym that is now part of their acquisition [ the gym that I had been using], but will not allow me to use the LA Fitness down the street. Im told its because I originally bought the Ballys membership in Conn. and I am now in N.Y. I have been using this membership in N.Y. for about 20 years. They say its because the N.Y. L.A. Fitness is an elite club and I only have a multi use membership for non elite clubs. Ok I guess they got me so I go to the gym I have been using for the last 20 years and they now have new hours starting at 10 in the morning. Really what do you think is going on here now.
robert mares June 16, 2012 at 07:21 AM
So what is the latest info on accessing Bally's?
Susan Benjamin June 29, 2012 at 07:40 PM
I live in Virginia, where One Life Fitness took over a Bally's gym 30 minutes from my house. There was a second Bally's nearer to my house, and that is where I joined up. I paid an outrageous price for 3 years with the understanding that my dues would only be $7/month after the 3 years. My fees did drop as promised, but now my Bally's is closed. The Bally's 30 minutes from my house was converted to a One Life Fitness facility. Now here is the punchline. Members who took out their contract at the Bally's 30 minutes from my house are having their contracts honored NATIONWIDE by One Life Fitness. But because I signed up at a different location, I am not being offered anything. Is this happening elsewhere with One Life? Susan sibenjam@gmail.com
Val July 02, 2012 at 01:16 AM
My Bally's membership was sold to One Life. My original contact is a national account where I could go to any gym. One Life in Va Beach is saying I only can go to this one location. Upon contacting Bally's rep. they are saying that Onelife has to honor my national contact. So far, the management at Va Beach has failed to look up my specific contract agreement and they are just wanting me to join as a new member at the Onelife location that I want to go to. Where can I get a copy of Onelife's purchase agreement with Bally's?
M. Bousquet July 04, 2012 at 05:44 PM
I also am a Ballys member in Virginia Beach. I have a lifetime membership that allowed be to go to all Ballys (originally purchased as European Health Spa, then Holiday, then Ballys). One Life has taken over all the Ballys in this area but they are telling me that I can only go to the One life in Virginia Beach. Although I live in VB, I often work in Newport News or Chesapeake and enjoyed going to the Ballys in those locations as well as my home club in VB. I feel like I'm being cheated, since I bought a "lifetime" membership with multi-club priveliges and am told now I can only go to one club. One Life offers a multi- club membership similiar to the one I had at Bally's. I think they should offer this to all lifetime members as myself. What can we do?
Robert Factor July 14, 2012 at 02:08 PM
I have been a Bally member since 1984.. I originally purchased my membership in Wisconsin but I have been in Florida for the past 20 years using the Bally's here in Florida. Now Bally's and LA Fittness say they will not transfer my memebership to LA Fittness because I was originally a member in Wisconsin. They say my only alternative is to sign up as a LA Fittness new member.. Something is wrong with that picture. I have made numerous phone calls to La Fittness and Ballys with zero results. Now I understand the Bally clubs in Wisconsin have been bought out by a fittness company called Blast. They have no clubs in Florida.. They were uncooperative also.. Any suggestions..There must be others with this same problem. Thanks.. Bob simon517@yahoo.com
Brian Boykin August 04, 2012 at 04:18 AM
I am in the same boat as everyone. I have been given the run-around by both Bally's and LA Fitness. Has anyone found a recourse that works. I was thinking about small claims court but I am unsure where to file. I would appreciate any assistance from someone who made progress. Brian Pls reply to beboykin@verizon.net
trina N August 15, 2012 at 03:28 PM
I paid last May for THREE years in advance. In December when i got notification that LAFITNESS would assume my membership, I was okay with that. BUT then they closed my home gym. I haven't been in a LONG time because it's not convenient!! I called today to get a refund for the remainder of my membership and LAFITNESS said get the $ from Bally's and Bally's said get the $ from LAFITNESS... what are my options?
Michelle Williams August 30, 2012 at 04:44 PM
Hello all other disgruntled former Bally's membership holders. I am willing to pursue at great length an accountable action between both Bally's and LA Fitness, neither of which have been willing to help continue a membership that I have held for the last 24 years. I was told after renewing my membership online with Bally's that it will not transfer because the stipulation of LA Fitness is that it has to be an automatic payment. Information I was not given. In fact, I was never notified of the pending change of Bally's to LA Fitness. The reason when I talked to a customer service manager over the phone, named "Wilbur," is that because I opened my membership in Ohio in 1988, and there are no LA Fitness clubs there that I would not be interested in changing it. Even though I have resided in the state of California for the last 12 years. I asked if it was good customer service on their part, and they seem to think it is. So, if anyone else is enraged enough for action, please reply. I am drafting a letter to the FTC about the handling of this merger to the consumers.
jesus September 04, 2012 at 04:56 PM
I am trying to add my wife to the membership. On our old Ballys contract it stated we may add immediate family members for 99.00 year. Now LA Fitness refuses. What can we do?
Maria Son September 26, 2012 at 09:58 PM
I was a former member of Ballys since the early 90's and when I tried to go to LA Fitness they said my membership was revoked!! I am very much upset because I paid a $1,500 deposit back in th 90's and now they want me to pay another fee to start again... Michelle Williams You may reach me at sonoranew@aol.com
Scott Roser November 14, 2012 at 10:56 PM
I purchased a Gold Executive Lifetime Membership from Holiday Health and Fitness in 1984 in Knoxville, Tennesse financed at 21% interest. This membership was good at all affliated clubs in the U.S. Within a year I moved to Maryland and used multiple Holiday Health and Fitness Clubs in the MD and Va. Both the Knoxville and the MD/Va clubs were subsequently purchased by Ballys and my membership was changed to Ballys. Recently I reduced my attendance at the local Ballys as it did not include a pool for swimming, my primary form of exercise. As part of the sell off, my membership was treated as a Knoxville only club. This club is closed and neither LA Fitness nor what is left of Ballys will provide any assistance to correct this problem. My wife purchased and had the same membership as I and regularly attended a local Ballys. Her membership was transferred to LA Fitness. It appears that there are a significant number of individuals who purchased similar memberships and relocated and are now left without a membership.
A.. Santi November 16, 2012 at 06:20 AM
LA Fitness in Broadview, IL will not honor my dad's "silver sneaker" membership he had through Bally's. They said he had to become a new member again and pay new member rates. But that's BS because LA Fitness took over all contracts. They didn't get to pick and choose which member can stay or who they can deny. But they have denied my dad's membership. He is an 82 yr old man who still runs every day. He should not be treated this way!
Lisa November 20, 2012 at 09:48 PM
L. Francis I am still experiencing major issues with this transition. I went into the club in Lawndale, Ca to provide them with a printout of many years of annual fees below $85. I have been a member since 1989. They then tell me my renewal fee is $257.00. I recieved nothing in the mail or electronically, etc. Had I not gone into the club, I would not have known they increased my annual membership and that it was due in a week. They sent out no welcome letters and did not even my current information. This has been a nightmare for the customer who is caught in the middle of this corporate disfunction and unprofessionalism!!! No one seems to be able to help! I have never ever paid more than $85.00 for my annual fee and have been a member sincde 1989. Now I stand to loose it all!!!! Bally's will not cooperate either. Each business tells me to contact the other and that there is nothing either of them can do.
J hartl December 21, 2012 at 08:27 PM
J. Hartl I became a Bally's Premier Plus Member 12/21/92 through the Flint, MI location. This was supposed to be a national lifetime membership. A few years later to my dismay Bally's closed the only Flint location leaving only the Detroit area locations available. Event though my national lifetime membership was paid for I did not continue my monthly $10.00 dues do to not having access to a location within a reasonable distance. From time to time I would receive phone calls to start up the $10.00 monthly dues but explained I would do so when I had a location within a reasonable distance. Then in 2007 I moved to Florida. I then again recieved phone calls to start again, but again explained that they only location was in Tampa about an hour away. A couple of months ago L.A. Fitness built a location in Sarasota, FL. I heard last week that they bought out Bally's and Lifestyle gyms. So I called both the "Bally's" L.A. Fitness in MI & FL and both informed me that since I was not "active" at the time, that my contract was not purchased and would not be good at their locations. Is there anything that can be done Mr. Levy? If so, I would appreciate your advice/help! SHartl4088@comcast.net
Vince Van Tassel January 05, 2013 at 05:24 PM
Vince Van Tassel I have a Preimer Ballys lifetime membership and the club I signed up for was in Livingston NJ in 1980's. At some point I got a new ID card that has the Springfield NJ location on it. Livingston is no longer Ballys but Springfield still is. La Fitness can't find me in their system. I bought the lifetime membership because I liked the nationwide access to fitness clubs. I want to be able to access all LA Fitness clubs and keep my renewal rate of $49 per year. What can I do? Please contact me Mr Levy at: vvantassel@allianceam.com. Thank you.
NikkiNiki January 15, 2013 at 03:41 AM
I am LIVID!! I have been a Bally's member since 1978. I was told to go to LA Fitness a while back and have not had a problem until a few months ago. LA Fitness was suddenly unable to find me in their accounts. When I called the Bally customer service number I was told it was because I was transferred to Blast. I have never heard of Blast nor is there a Blast anywhere near me. I was told they sent my membership to this club because they transferred the membership depending on where you opened the account. Obviously, there is a pretty good chance I have moved since 1978. I am no longer in the same state. This is absolutely ridiculous that this is the way a longtime customer is treated. Has anyone else had this issue or know of anyway to get it resolved so that my membership may be properly transferred to LA Fitness? Thanks in advance
tony pace February 14, 2013 at 01:00 AM
I'm livid also!! I have been a lifetime national Bally's member for over 20 years. I was recently told that I no longer have access to a national membership with Bally's and that my contract was transferred to Blast, due to this same type of transfer scenario. I was a national and lifetime member with fixed annual dues. Now, they try to send a different contract from Blast and also have put the burden of the customer to provide their old contracts. Wait, you bought out a club and its membership, but don't have access to our contracts?? Somebody have any answers or a similiar situation to the last two posts?? Thanks in advance too
tony pace February 14, 2013 at 01:02 AM
Have you found any solutions?
Richard April 05, 2013 at 07:26 PM
It all sounds like a scam to void membership contracts through "shell companies" and to get out of their contracts. some good att. will hopefully put a class action suit on Balley and all membership fees should be returned as Balleys has voided thier obligation of the contract. Richard sailor2000@verizon.net
Gerry May 24, 2013 at 12:30 PM
Looks like there are more questions than answers on this forum. Any updates anyone would care to post?
Suzanne Liggett Reegan July 29, 2013 at 04:46 PM
I am in the same boat as most of you. I see our posting has slowed down considerably. Is this because we have all given up or have some of you found closure? Anyone have any luck? Where is the class action lawsuit, I am wondering. I am surprised there has not been one filed yet with so many unhappy club members. If anyone has any feedback, give me a shout at ohioariesgirl@gmail.com - Thanks!

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