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'Consistent Sanitary Issues' Forced LA Fitness Closure

Local fitness center shut down by health department on Wednesday.

Citing consistent complaints from club members regarding ongoing sanitary issues at , Village of Morton Grove officials said they closed the facility yesterday afternoon. 

Earlier: LA Fitness Shut Down by Health Department

Morton Grove Pro Tem Village Administrator Ryan Horne said the village has received complaints via phone call and email from members since LA Fitness, 6821 Dempster St., acquired Bally Total Fitness in early December 2011. 

"Consistently over the past few months we’ve had issues where members would call up and say; 'they’ve out of toilet paper, they’re out of soap, they’re out of shampoo,'" Horne said. "And use your imagination, I’m sure you can imagine what happens when you don’t have toilet paper."

Mold and mildew had also become a noticeable problem at the facility since the village health department began inspections on Dec. 19, 2011, once LA Fitness took over. Horne added that the closure came as no surprise to employees and management at LA Fitness. 

"This was not a surprise to the members, this was not a surprise to the management there and this certainly was not a surprise to their corporate office," he said. "We’ve had numerous conversations with everyone up and down the management staff there." 

As of this writing, LA Fitness could not be reached for comment. It's also unclear whether members will be reimbursed during the facility's closure. 

One member of LA Fitness, who wished to remain anonymous, said she witnessed some of the sanitary problems first-hand when visiting the club yesterday before it was closed at 3 p.m. Toilet paper was missing from the bathrooms and the facility lacked overall cleanliness. She was told by an employee that a cleaning company was coming in at 11 a.m. 

As far as when or if LA Fitness will reopen, Horne said the immediate sanitary issues have to be corrected before that can happen. 

"If we go over there today and they have corrected all of the issues with mold, mildew, the bathroom facilities themselves... If they have corrected all the sanitary issues they can reopen right now," he said.  

Additionally there are some ongoing issues related to the business license and permits, which have not been corrected, he added.

"There’s still some time on that that they have to correct things," Horne said.

The , after failing to comply with a state law mirroring the federal Virginia Graeme Baker Act. The act was designed to prevent drowning deaths after a 7-year-old girl became trapped underwater by the strong suction of a hot tub drain and drowned in 2002.

That law requires pool operators, such as park districts, to install types of pool drain covers which prevent dangerous suction power that can cause swimmers to become stuck and drown.

Village officials said Bally Total Fitness had "quite a bit of time" to fix the drain problem and had applied for a permit, which was issued shortly before LA Fitness took over.

"LA Fitness then applied for a permit, so there’s some confusion about that," said Morton Grove Environmental Health Inspector Bonnie Burnett. "But according to LA Fitness they will be repairing that drain and making the pool usable again."

Horne emphasised that the village has no authority over the facility's swimming pool in terms of it being operable. 

"I just want to make it very clear to everyone that the reason the pool is not operating is because of state licensing and management at LA Fitness," he said.

Village officials said they've always "intermittently received complaints" regarding sanitary issues since LA Fitness acquired Bally Total Fitness. However, Horne added closing the facility wasn't something they wanted to do.  

"All in all, while it was something we absolutely did not want to do - we didn’t, our goal in Morton Grove is to be business friendly. Our goal is to work with people to get them into compliance," Horne said. "Unfortunately, we really had no choice and when it came time for us to act they’re the ones who understood why we had to do it." 

j. thomas hunter February 24, 2012 at 12:56 AM
Ironically, I complained about the sanitary conditions on Sunday. It looked horrible: piles of garbage in the shower room, mold on the ceilings in the men's steam room. The floor in the steam room smelled like urine and there were orange peels and food on the floors in the locker room. It never looked that bad before and I normally am not one to complain, but I went to the front desk to talk to a manager about the conditions that day. I expected to get blown off, so I taped my conversation with the front desk staff. The guy on duty DID blow me off, even though another member was complaining at the same time I was about the same issue. The other member complained of vomit being in the bathroom all over the floor, and piles of feces being there too. The guy at the front desk showed no interest until I told him that I was recording our conversation to give to a manager if nothing was done about it. I was equally surprised and not so surprised when I heard the news today about the location closing. Its a shame because if kept clean it'd be a wonderful facility.
Mike February 24, 2012 at 01:42 AM
I am actually the new manager at that location, and will be in that role as soon as the Health Department gives us the okay to open. I would love to see the video if you don't mind -> mike.duckworth@lafitness.com . Stop by 9-6 Monday-Friday and ask to speak to Mike, I'll take care of you in regards to these issues and make sure you and everyone else has a positive experience each and every time you attend our club.
Hello February 24, 2012 at 03:41 AM
I'd glad to speak to you MIke. After the closer, I experienced WORST member service since being member and started experience recently. Employee was unwilling to provide information as he was busy chatting with someone. I'll have to rethinking about continuing membership at this place and hopefully NEW employees are going through basic training.
MP February 24, 2012 at 04:17 AM
Hope they fix these issues soon. This gym is a good place to workout (minus the locker room issues). I just stopped using the locker rooms a while back.
Lauren Miller February 24, 2012 at 08:14 AM
It's a shame that the guests who attend that facility can't maintain proper mannerisms and leave their fecal matter for the homestead. I see the maintance staff working continuously to keep the gym clean and sanitary to the best of their ability. I have seen with my own eyes a women clipping her toenails in the woman's locker room, and proceeding to let them fly all over the floor. It's not someone else's responsibility to clean up after another person's mess. I thoroughly enjoy working out at that location, and was disappointed to hear that is was being shut down for the time being. I don't think it is all the facilities fault for the ignorance of certain people.
Suzie February 24, 2012 at 12:15 PM
It might have gotten a bit worst after the club was aquired by LA fitness, but it was not the cleanest to begin with. While still under Bally's I've sent number of complains about mess in the club. I hope they can get this under control
K Edwards February 24, 2012 at 02:58 PM
I work out there, as well, and have stopped using the locker room for fear of theft as much as the lack of cleanliness. This is blatant disregard for the customer. LA Fitness has a staffing issue, plain and simple: too few, inadequately trained, etc. a general lack of interest permeates the place and has for years. Shame on me and the other schlubs who frequent the joint. God forbid a member suffers a heart attack or a serious injury in this place. Would you feel confident getting the attention needed by an employee? This episode has sealed the decision for me to find another gym.
j. thomas hunter February 24, 2012 at 04:18 PM
Thank you for your concern Mr. Duckworth. I have emailed you and am looking forward to meeting with you about this issue. I will bring my audio recording and a written transcript of the conversation.
Long time member February 24, 2012 at 06:04 PM
Ithas gotten worst after LA fintness took over. As soon as you enter the facility the enterance and hallway is dirty, not sweeped or moped, paper towels are in holder but could not dispense it. Not enough staffing. I had complained at front dest about the sanitary situation and I was told that they have fired Bally's cleaning crew and new cleaning crew starting from today. This was two weeks ago. When it was Ballys management, I used to see cleaning crew working around the clock. They would clean the machines while you are working on that machine. If this is not resolved I would like to have refund on my membership. Longtime member
j. thomas hunter February 24, 2012 at 07:19 PM
The email bounced back to me as undeliverable. The message says that delivery to that address (mike.duckworth@lafitness.com) is restricted. Please advise.
Dimitri Ajazi September 03, 2012 at 05:35 PM
"...clean(ing) the machines while you are working on that machine" was very disturbing and broke up my and others' workouts. And we're just average, non-bodybuilder members. One other older member complained to one of the cleaners and the cleaner argued with him. While constant cleaning is a plus at any gym, disrupting members' workouts is not.
Dimitri Ajazi September 03, 2012 at 05:36 PM
To clarify on my comment, these disruptions occurred during Bally and not LAF ownership.
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Sandy G. April 07, 2013 at 10:34 PM
Joe, the P.T. Manager at LA Fitness in Morton Grove is such an asshole that he cancels friends membership just because friends workout together. He revoked several people's memberships, and also forced several more to cancel and go join other clubs. They have slogans to "Bring your friends and join together". But as soon as you do, they revoke you for working out with friends. This little jerk wants you to pay his useless trainers. can somebody give me his full name and last name?
Deadcatbounce April 08, 2013 at 12:02 AM
I'm not a member of this club, but the employees at my club are constantly trying to keep the place clean. Unfortunately many of the members are slobs and think the staff should pick up after them. Clipping toenails and tossing on floor, dropping garbage and towels on the floor and all over the shower, not flushing the toilet are all common practices.

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