Modesto Fit Republic gyms close due to bankruptcy proceeding

Alonzo Osche

Fit Republic health club on Dale Road in Modesto, Calif., on Monday, April 12, 2021. Andy Alfaro [email protected] Several Fit Republic gyms — including those in Modesto, Manteca and Tracy — have closed as a result of bankruptcy proceedings. The locations, which were owned by Pleasanton Fitness, LLC, with headquarters […]

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Fit Republic health club on Dale Road in Modesto, Calif., on Monday, April 12, 2021.

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Several Fit Republic gyms — including those in Modesto, Manteca and Tracy — have closed as a result of bankruptcy proceedings.

The locations, which were owned by Pleasanton Fitness, LLC, with headquarters at the Modesto location, were instructed to shut down on April 9 as the company’s assets were transferred to a trustee as part of the proceedings. Franchisee-owned locations of Fit Republic, including those in Oakdale and Riverbank, are unaffected by the closure.

The court-ordered shutdown follows a change in Fit Republic’s bankruptcy status.

Customers were left surprised when the gyms shut down on Friday without warning. One gym posted a notice of their shutdown to social media, but the post and account were soon taken down. A handwritten sign hangs in the window of the Modesto location, alerting customers of the closure.

“In terms of notice to the public, it was abrupt,” said Iain McDonald, one the lawyers representing Pleasanton Fitness in the bankruptcy proceeding. “In terms of notice to the company, they knew it was coming.”

For Corinna Jarrett, a retail worker who has been going to the Modesto Fit Republic location on Dale Road for years, the closure came out of nowhere. She has been a customer for decades and watched the location’s name change a number of times. Her membership fees always rolled over, she said, and the gym’s owner, Sanjiv Chopra, always remained.

McDonald said Chopra and his family have relocated to Las Vegas and he was leading the company remotely.

The gym had briefly shut down as a result of COVID-19 restrictions, Jarrett said, but re-opened for outdoor use. Jarrett said she and her husband had pre-paid their annual membership fees and have now lost the money due to the closure.

“It’s really sad,” Jarrett said. “It’s a great location for where I live, where I work. A lot of the members there are still original … and all of a sudden the doors are shut and I’ll probably never be able to see these people again.”

McDonald said now that Pleasanton’s assets are in the hands of the trustee, there will be proceedings to pay any outstanding debts and collect names of customers. Whether they will be able to claim the full amount of money they paid Fit Republic before the shutdown, or be only partially compensated depends on how much is left over once the trustee has settled all the company’s debts, he added.

“The No. 1 priority is going to be paying for the bankruptcy,” he said. “The trustee was asked about final payroll and refunds and he said, ‘Well that will all come later.’”

A different gym has expressed interest in taking over some of the shuttered locations, McDonald said, and may roll over the existing clients’ memberships.

This is not the first time Pleasanton Fitness, LLC, has found itself in court. In 2018, the company — then operating under the name Fitness Evolution — settled for $1.8 million with the Fresno County District Attorney’s office over alleged unfair business practices.

McDonald said he doesn’t expect the franchise locations to be affected by the closure. Lauren Brown, who co-owns the Oakdale franchise location with her husband, said she still hasn’t heard from the corporate office since they closed. Brown said that before the shutdown, there was little communication with the owners, and at this point, her franchise is a Fit Republic location in name only.

“There was no real communication, and we just ran our own thing,” she said.

This story was produced with financial support from the Stanislaus Community Foundation, along with the GroundTruth Project’s Report for America initiative. The Modesto Bee maintains full editorial control of this work.

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Kristina Karisch is the economic development reporter for The Modesto Bee. She covers economic recovery and development in Stanislaus County and the North San Joaquin Valley. Her position is funded through the financial support from the Stanislaus Community Foundation, along with The GroundTruth Project’s Report for America initiative. The Modesto Bee maintains full editorial control of her work.

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