Gym of Basalt throws in towel | AspenTimes.com

Gym of Basalt throws in towel

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

Janet Urquhart

BASALT – Midvalley gym rats are sweating a future without The Gym of Basalt.

The facility will close its doors at month’s end, sending members out in search of other options for pumping iron, annual ski conditioning and other organized forms of aerobic torture.

Sweat-drenched regulars in Monday’s 5:30 a.m. spin class commiserated with The Gym owner Terry Lewis, who led the stationary bicyclists through their brutal paces. This is the final week of morning spin sessions.

“There are a lot of people who are bummed out. I’m bummed out,” Lewis said. “But even in the best of times, this is a tough, tough business, and this isn’t the best of times.”

The Gym has operated at the Mid Valley Business Center since the mid-1990s; Lewis took the operation over about five-and-a-half years ago. The Gym’s lease expires Aug. 31, and she has decided not to renew it.

The equipment is up for sale, and Lewis hopes to reimburse members who have paid for memberships that extend beyond the closing date with the proceeds.

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“Everyone who’s prepaid – I’d like to pay them back, at least something,” she said.

The lease expires at a time when The Gym’s membership is in decline – about 60 percent off from this time last year and about 30 percent down over the past 12 months, Lewis said.

When High Mountain Fitness in Basalt closed two years ago, The Gym picked up a lot of its former members, Lewis said, but lately, the loss of local construction jobs has forced people to move on, and other residents have simply had to trim expenses.

“I had a really large Hispanic membership, and a lot of them are gone,” she said. “And, gym memberships are the first thing to go when times are tough.”

Lewis said she had hoped to negotiate a lower rent with her landlord, Valley Lumber Co. (technically, Valley Real Estate Partners II), but even with a rent reduction, she faced a huge jump in her share of the property tax payment because property values took a big leap with this year’s reassessment.

“The economy’s too uncertain to enter into another lease,” she concluded.

Lewis said the WIN Health Institute in Basalt approached her when word of the pending closure began to spread. She worked out a tentative deal in which she would turn over a bunch of her equipment to the institute for its gym facility. In exchange, the WIN was to honor her members’ unexpired memberships.

She said she received an Aug. 5 e-mail from a WIN representative giving her the go-ahead to inform her members of the agreement, but they backed out the following day, Lewis said.

The WIN remains interested in working out a deal that honors some portion of The Gym members’ memberships, though it doesn’t want the equipment, said WIN founder Dr. David Jensen on Monday. What kind of a deal the institute would offer depends on how much an individual has remaining on their membership at The Gym, he said.

The WIN doesn’t offer more than month-long memberships in its gym facility; the fee is $60 per month, he said.

For Gym members, however, arranging new workout accommodations won’t necessarily replace the social aspect they’ve come to cherish at The Gym.

“It’ll be really sad,” said Carbondale resident Kitty Riley, who has been a member for six years or so. “I’ll miss it. It’s a real welcoming place in the morning.”

“It’s a bummer,” agreed Alec Parker. “I don’t know what I’m going to do.”

janet@aspentimes.com