ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- With little advance warning, the WOW! fitness center location in South Rochester closed on Saturday, and charter members will be forced to work out at the newer location at 3960 Highway 52 North. Just a few hours after announcing to its 5,000 members they would be closing, crews started packing up the gym. The sudden closure caught many gym-goers off guard.
"I just walked over and saw the trucks here and the workmen told me they were closed," said gym member, Pat Larson.
The change in company operations was announced in a statement sent out at 5:52 p.m. Friday by Bill Langlois, Vice President of Blast Fitness Group, LLC.
"In an attempt to better serve the Rochester community, the closing of the older, smaller club will allow us to concentrate on providing even more value to our member base of nearly 10,000 at the newer, more spacious location," said Langlois. "Some additions include adding new state of the art tanning booths, and increasing our already robust 40 per week group exercise schedule."
According to Blast Fitness Group, the parent company of Work out World, the reason the announcement came in the form of an email was to ensure employees could continue their work without disruption from a move.
"It's about protecting the employees," said Langlois. "We didn't want employees to have to come to work and deal with the stress of 5,000 members getting upset."
According to Blast Fitness, there has been some backlash from the announcement. Lori Nierman took advantage of the gym's close proximity to her workplace and often came for a work out during her lunch break.
"[It] would've been nice to know in advance and it sucks," said Nierman. "It's going to put a damper on my workout times, because I don't have time after work either."
Pat Larson said she'll also have to find a new routine.
"I'll have to try it at the north location...see if I can work it into my schedule or not and then I'll have to decide from there," said Larson.
The change came too swiftly for the company to remove the South Rochester location from its web site, and prospective customers were still being encouraged to go to the 1201 South Broadway location as of 11 a.m. Saturday.
The company says it added 50 new locations last year in eleven states, and claims to be the fastest growing health club chain in the nation. Langlois says Blast Fitness Group plans to open several new clubs in 2013. Some of the equipment from Rochester's South location will be shipped to new locations in Chicago.
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