By PHIL ATTINGER

Staff Writer

SEBRING — Sebring’s Gold’s Gym franchise will close this month, for good.

“It is with great sadness to inform you that Gold’s Gym Sebring will be closing its doors on November 15th, 2019. Unfortunately, we were unable to secure a new lease with Shelby Crossings,” Executive Director Cory Dunn said in an email to members. “We are proud to have served the community for the last 11 years and we thank you for choosing our club and making us a part of your lives.”

When asked for further comment by the Highlands News-Sun, Dunn declined, stating he would need to check first with the franchise owner, Alan Jay Wildstein.

“We couldn’t come to terms with the landlord,” Wildstein said Monday in a phone call to the Highlands News-Sun. “All of it’s just an economic decision. There was not enough return to warrant the effort to manage it. It was not a profit-loss decision. It was a decision of the market.”

Wildstein said the imminent opening of Planet Fitness, in 2020 at Lakeshore Mall, meant the market would soon be “saturated.” Since he already has a long-term partnership with the Highlands Family YMCA, Wildstein has encouraged members to sign up over there.

He also plans to donate equipment from his gym to the YMCA.

“Rather than compete, it’s better to support them,” Wildstein said.

The YMCA also is offering services to help Gold’s Gym members transfer to their facility, he said.

“I’ve certainly enjoyed serving the county for the last 11 years,” Wildstein said. “I’m grateful for our team members that worked for me for 11 years.”

Dunn assured members that all accounts would be prorated to reflect membership up to the closing date. He also stated that members who have a positive balance once the club closes would receive a refund.

Those who expect to see a refund would want to email the club at sebringfl@goldsgym.net, he said.

In his email, however, Dunn encouraged members to join the YMCA, which would welcome all Gold’s members with special rates and no long-term contracts.

The announcement also went out via social media. Comments on the post also mentioned several other local gyms currently in operation, including Anytime Fitness in Avon Park; CrossFit, Prestige Fitness, Fitness Factory and Iron Havoc Gym in Sebring, as well as Planet Fitness.

People promoting those locations encouraged Gold’s Gym members and employees to look into those gyms.

However, many comments spoke sadly of losing a place many had come to regard as part of the community.

“I can’t stress the sadness this is on so many people not only guest’s (sic) but employee in a roundabout way,” wrote Lee Kurabieski, a regular gym member. “We are family employees and staff. I witness (sic) a staff member crying this is very sad (sic). A prime example is why a gym is more than just a fitness club. Its (sic) introduced so many people to great friendships that will sadly be missed.”

In response to Kurabieski’s comment, Ann Curnow Glover said she was preparing to go back because her son was getting ready to join.

“Now I guess I have to look into the YMCA because it’s close to the park and at least they have a family plan,” Glover wrote.

Meanwhile, Paul Danelutti Jr. said he’d been a member since the gym opened and loved everyone there.

“I could not go to the gym for 3 months ( had surgery) and was allowed by doctor to return Nov 1st,” Danelutti wrote. “And now Gold’s is closing. I am so sad right now.. !!!”

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