Popular Mandarin gym closes without warning

Letter posted at Club Fitness says memberships transferred to Planet Fitness

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A popular gym in Mandarin closed Wednesday morning without notifying members beforehand. 

Club Fitness of Mandarin on San Jose Boulevard posted a letter on the door overnight, explaining the gym is closing "due to rising costs in operating overhead." But members said that's the only notice they ever received. 

VIEW: Letter posted on door of Club Fitness of Mandarin

Thousands are left without answers about the memberships. The operator of the facility said he was blindsided by the sudden closure. 

The co-owner and operator of Club Fitness of Mandarin, Chris Zuravnsky, said he came in to train clients Wednesday morning when he realized the locks had been changed on the doors and found the notice, saying that the gym is closing due to financial problems. 

"I was locked out of my own gym. I was as surprised as the members were," Zuravnsky said. 

Zuravnsky said he was brought in as the new operator about three months ago to help with the problems. He said he thought everything was going well, and there were no signs that the gym was going to close.

In the letter posted on the door, Club Fitness of Mandarin told members to go to Planet Fitness on Old St. Augustine Road, where their memberships would be honored. 

Club Fitness member Elly Littlejohn said she's extremely frustrated by how the situation was handled and that everyone feels left down.

"It was a shock. I, kind of, didn't believe it as first, because, literally, I was there yesterday working out. Nobody said anything to the members," Littlejohn said. "You pay a monthly membership. Some pay annually. Some people pay for personal training. I do know there's a lot of members who just recently paid for personal training packages, (in) cash, to be facilitated at this Club Fitness in Mandarin and, now, as of this morning, they are out of their money." 

Planet Fitness managers talked to members about which options they could pursue.

"He's worked diligently to try to accommodate to the best of their ability, with the different contacts and such, being transferred over," Littlejohn said. 

Zuravnsky said he is doing his best to make up for the huge loss to the community and the more than 5,000 members who will now have to call another gym home.

"My clients are like family to me. My members are like family. For them to be taken out underneath me, that was more painful than anything else," Zuravnsky said. 

Zuravnsky said that he did get in contact with the property owners. He said all they told him is that it was purely a decision based on the financial status of the facility. 

New4Jax spoke with the owner of Club Fitness, who said they are doing everything they can to accommodate clients. He said they tried to make rent this month, but couldn't make it and made the decision to shut down the facility in the last week. 

McCall Gosselin with Planet Fitness sent the following statement to News4Jax Wednesday afternoon: 

"Thanks again for reaching out. I can confirm that as a result of Club Fitness' closure, the nearby newly opened Planet Fitness is welcoming its members, and PF club staff and the local franchise owners are doing everything possible to make this transition as easy and seamless as possible.

"We look forward to introducing new members to all the amenities that Planet Fitness has to offer -- a larger, extremely clean 22,000 square foot club with brand new equipment, flat screen televisions, full size locker rooms, unlimited fitness training, and more -- all in a non-intimidating, judgment-free zone for just $10 per month."