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September 06, 2007

My Gym! It's Gone!

Images When we bought a condo up here in southeast Rogers Park earlier this year, I was excited about its proximity to Cheetah Gym/Edgewater.  I'd heard about this chain of gyms back in San Francisco when someone had sent me a Time Out Chicago issue on athletic clubs in the area, and I was drooling over it before we even got to Chicago. 

The time was right and the initiation fee was being waived, so I joined Cheetah about two weeks ago.  I have loved it.  The place is beautiful, clean, and has all the equipment I need.  I've been going 3-4 times a week, happily climbing out of bed before 6am to take advantage of my rekindled motivation to exercise.  I feel great!

Until yesterday, that is.  Yesterday was the day when I was notified - not by the gym itself mind you, but by a friend emailing me the link to a newsflash on Chicagoist - that it had closed down.  No warning, no

refund to all of the members who had had September's payment debited from our accounts at the end of August.   Just an unclear and unprofessional letter from the owner, David Wilshire, claiming fraud on the part of his employees (and pointing a finger at one) and suggesting that we members do what we can to protect our personal assets.  Well, in the aftermath of this news, many people had a great deal to say about Mr. Wilshire, but not knowing anything about him personally I won't repeat it here.

Whomever is to blame for me not having a place to work out this morning, members of the Cheetah gyms across the city were sent scrambling yesterday to close debit/credit accounts that had been given to Cheetah and to register fraud alerts with all three credit bureaus. There has been no actual information provided about what type of fraud may have taken place there, but of course Cheetah also had all of our social security numbers.  We'll see how this all shakes out, and hope that it hasn't been disastrous for us.

In the meantime, thanks to commenters on the original post at Chicagoist who shared the names of good gyms in close proximity to the ones that closed yesterday, I was able to find and join a fantastic gym equally close to my house today.  It's a smaller, independent gym (Edgewater Athletic and Swim Club) so I hadn't heard of it before.  But given that it's cheaper and has a lovely pool, I'm going to consider it a silver lining. 

I would recommend that former Cheetah Gym members start taking a look at what's out there, because the other local gyms are more than happy to run specials for those of us who have been displaced!   

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