As a legal stoush between two gym owners heads to the High Court today, one of the men involved has pleaded with members to wait for the "full story" to come out in court.
Stuart Holder, who owned three Club Physical gym franchises in Auckland, suddenly rebranded the clubs as "Jolt Fitness" without warning on February 8.
Staff at those locations were fitted with new uniforms, new classes were put in place, and instructors arriving up to take their regular classes were turned away.
Many members have been left confused and angry that the gym they signed up for no longer exists. Those wishing to cancel their memberships, now with Jolt Fitness, are being dealt with "on a case by case basis", the owners said.
Club Physical owner Paul Richards alleges Holder has breached franchise agreements that have "years to run on them" and the matter is being brought before the High Court at Auckland today.
In a statement to Jolt Fitness members last night, Holder hit out at Club Physical for spreading "malicious and untrue information designed to undermine our business by claiming we are in breach of the Fair Trading Act".
"I want to assure you that we have been advised throughout this process by a legal team and do not accept any of the accusations made by Club Physical that our actions have caused any breach of the Fair Trading Act."
Holder said he was forced to end the franchise agreements with Club Physical in Westgate, Botany and Three Kings because Richards had not been meeting his obligations and this was putting the clubs' futures in jeopardy.
"Tomorrow we will be going to court in what will be the next step in trying to resolve this issue," he continued.
"During the hearing, the judge will hear not only about how the franchisor failed to meet its obligations with our clubs, but also from other previous franchisees who faced similar issues."
"We ask that you allow the full story to come out through the courts rather than listening to the misinformation that is currently being spread by Club Physical."
Club Physical, owned by parent company Health Club Brands Limited, goes to the High Court today seeking an injunction to block Jolt Fitness from trading.
At the same time, Colven Botany Limited & Ors, trading as Jolt Fitness, seeks a counter injunction against Club Physical to stop it accessing its member database.
During the weekend, about 40 angry Club Physical members turned out to protest against the rebrand at Jolt Fitness in Westgate, holding placards which read "Uphold Franchise Law" and "Support Club Physical".
Club Physical has told members who want to keep working out at Club Physical they can transfer to another branch at no cost while legal proceedings are underway.
Club Physical was founded by Richards in 1981 and now operates in six Auckland locations.By Ben Chapman-Smith Email Ben