Popular gym unexpectedly shuts down leaving thousands in limbo

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GILBERT - Catherine Messer spends most of her time taking care of her daughter.

So when she found out Fitness Factory, a gym near her Gilbert home offered child care, she signed up.

“They had child care which was a big plus for me because if I want to go during the day I have to take my daughter,” she said.

But earlier this month, Fitness Factory unexpectedly closed its doors.

“I found out by word of mouth that they were closing,” Catherine said.

Property managers here say they're victims, too.

“It's just a sad, sad situation,” property manager Christie Tanners said.

Tanners, who helps oversee the property, says when they found out the gym was closing leaving thousands of members high and dry, property managers stepped in to keep the facility open.

But, she says, the gyms owners took off with property that wasn't theirs.

She showed 3 On Your Side wires where televisions and sound systems used to be.

She also says work-out equipment is missing, and this electric bill for 27-thousand dollars?

Tanners says it’s the result of the owners, Jared Festner and Michael Myers not paying it for months.

According to Tanners, the two were also way behind on rent.

When they left, the owners sold off all of their customer's memberships to another gym called Fitness Works.

“I expect a business, if they are going to close to give some kind of notification to its members,” Catherine said. “They had our email, they had our information.”

Catherine isn't the only member of Fitness Factory who has reached out to 3 On Your Side.

After talking to us and taking to a blog to complain, one woman says she began receiving threatening text messages and a cease and desist order from attorneys representing the gym’s owners. 

We wanted to ask the owners about all of this.

Jared Festner declined to talk with 3 On Your Side on camera, but by phone told us the tough ecomony took a toll.

“Unfortunately, my lawyer has advised me not to talk about the center because it's in bankruptcy,” he said.

While Festner says Fitness Factory is in bankruptcy, we've learned that he recently applied for a liquor license and is in the process of opening a new business, Babes Sports Bar and Grill in Scottsdale.

News that doesn't sit well with members of his former gym.

“It is unfair,” Catherine said. “It is very unfair.”

3 On Your Side has also obtained a lawsuit filed in Nevada against the owners of Fitness Factory.

The lawsuit makes accusations similar to those being made here.

Fitness Factory members who want to break free of their old contract need to physically go to Fitness Works and cancel it.

Meantime, property managers say they will keep the gym open for the time being.