The closure of LA Fitness and the changes in COVID change the landscape of Evanston Health Club

With the closure of Evanston LA Fitness in mid-April and the changes that occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a change in the climate of Evanston Health.

The closing of LA Fitness last month is another piece of the puzzle in downtown Evanston. Authorities are considering funding a study on how to revitalize the city’s business districts. credit: Bob Seidenberg

The city’s economic development manager, Paul Zalmezak, who spoke with the LA Fitness Club’s corporate office when the closure was announced, said the company made the decision based on low sales of new memberships and the high cost of doing business in Evanston. . He said the space vacated by the club is about 58,000 square feet and costs the club more than $ 2 million to rent each year. With a drop in membership from about 5,000 to 3,500, the club was unable to cover its expenses.

“There have been interesting community efforts to get the company to keep Evanston’s location open,” Zalemezak said. “Alderman [Clare] Kelly spoke to LA Fitness’s corporate office, asking them what it would take. The corporation has decided not to do so. “

Zalmezak said the loss of the health club was significant for many living in downtown Evanston. Silver Sneakers, a training program for seniors paid for by Medicare, was hosted at Evanston by LA Fitness. “We reached out to other gyms [about hosting the program]but some are too small to accept Silver Sneakers and are not available at the Evanston Athletic Club. ”

Evanston Athletic Club instructor Cynthia Narcissus (on stage) demonstrated to enthusiastic students in her Hula Hoop Core Challenge class.

Will Roberts, customer service manager at the Evanston Athletic Club, 1723 Benson Ave., said the number of members was increasing. “We’ve had a lot of growth lately because of the shutdown of LA Fitness,” Roberts said. “Our business as a whole has grown by about 50% in terms of traffic, membership sales, inquiries.”

Izzy Liebman, owner of TruFit, a private personal training studio at 610 Davis St. at the Evanston Center, said some of the coaches who lost their jobs at LA Fitness came to work for TruFit and that the studio’s offerings have changed in a number of ways.

“Everyone went online, trained at Zoom, and that seems to be the case for now. And now we have clients who live in different countries. That will remain, “Liebman said. “We also found that we don’t have to work shifts that we worked before and after [9-5] working hours. It wasn’t a healthy way to run my business, but my clients started working from home and it could take an hour. ”

Liebman said that for trainees, the new model after COVID allows for a healthier workout: “Trainers are much better at TruFit than at LA Fitness, trainers can set their own hours and pace, they train the way they want to. good and make more money. “

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