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Published: 10/9/2012

Toledo Lifestyles for Ladies gym remains closed

BY JON CHAVEZ
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

The popular Lifestyles for Ladies Only fitness facility on Monroe Street remained closed Monday in what appears to be a leasing dispute between the landlord and the new Akron-based owner of the fitness center.

Scott Brown, manager of the Red Fitness 24/7 gym on Airport Highway, formerly the Bally’s Total Fitness center, said the plan is to get the dispute resolved quickly, possibly within the next few days and reopen for the former Lifestyles operation at 5215 Monroe. “All intents are to getting this problem fixed as soon as possible,” Mr. Brown said.

Red Fitness purchased the Lifestyles for Ladies Only on Monroe at the end of September.

Meanwhile, Jerry Parker, an attorney for Don Finnegan, Jr., owner of Monroe Street Special Inc., the company that owns and controls the strip center that houses the Lifestyles gym, acknowledged that discussions were ongoing to resolve the situation, but he declined to comment.

The Lifestyles gym was closed abruptly on Friday morning by employees of Monroe Street Special Inc., shutting out about 350 members who pay to work out at the facility.

A sign posted on the door of Lifestyles read “business closed until further notice.”

Mr. Brown categorized the situation as a leasing dispute but would not elaborate. He said that until the fitness center is reopened Lifestyles members’ contracts would be honored by the Red Fitness 24/7 gym at 5424 Airport Hwy.

Red Fitness, which is owned by Michael Palumbo and operates gyms in eastern Ohio in Akron and Northfield, bought the former Bally’s in February.

Then last month, it purchased the Lifestyles for Ladies Only on Monroe from Lifestyles founders Don and Sharon Stump, who decided to exit the fitness center industry.

Mrs. Stump said the Lifestyles operation was sold with the understanding that members’ contracts would continue undisturbed by Red Fitness, and that Lifestyles employees would be retained by the new owners. The couple said they had attempted to renegotiate the size of their rented space on Monroe Street with Mr. Finnegan, but the situation went unresolved and they decided to sell to Red Fitness rather than face uncertainty about their lease at year’s end.

The sale of the operation closed on Sept. 28.

The Stumps pioneered in northwest Ohio the concept of a fitness club for women of all ages by opening their first Lifestyles for Ladies Only gym in Lambertville in 1994. Their concept grew quickly, eventually expanding to seven clubs, but as competition grew and the economy declined first in the early 2000s and again in 2007 the chain suffered with the Stumps eventually selling some of their locations to former employees and closing others.

A Parkway Plaza operation merged with the Monroe Street site that the Stumps sold to Red Fitness.

Contact Jon Chavez at: jchavez@theblade.com or 419-724-6128.



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