Gym stoush over - victory to Club Physical

By Ben Chapman-Smith

Club Physical gym members protesting outside the Jolt Fitness branch in Westgate last month. Photo / Supplied
Club Physical gym members protesting outside the Jolt Fitness branch in Westgate last month. Photo / Supplied

A legal stoush between two Auckland gym owners has finally been resolved with three fought-over gyms set to be transformed back to their original state.

Club Physical owner Paul Richards received an email "out of the blue" on February 8 to say three of his franchised gyms were being immediately renamed.

Without any warning to staff or gym members, Stuart Holder pulled out of the Club Physical franchise and re-branded his Three Kings, Botany and Westgate clubs as "Jolt Fitness".

New signs and classes were put in place, staff were fitted with new uniforms, and instructors arriving up to take their regular classes were turned away.

Many members of those gyms were upset the move came without warning and that classes they signed up for no longer existed.

Richards took the dispute to the High Court, claiming Holder had breached franchise agreements that had years to run on them.

Justice Helen Winkelmann granted an injunction requiring Holder to close the gyms immediately but then allowed Jolt Fitness to keep trading while the two parties negotiated an amicable handover.

An agreement has now been reached for Richards to take over the leases and reinstate the gyms as Club Physical, with original branding and classes.

Jolt Fitness will close for good at 3pm today and the clubs will re-open under the Club Physical banner on Saturday.

Richards said he was relieved to finally have the matter resolved and was looking forward to getting things up and running this weekend.

"I feel tired from eight weeks of this and I am very, very happy. I'm hoping I am able to sleep better now.

"There have been a lot of people's lives involved in this."

The next few days would be spent re-branding the gyms, carrying out any maintenance work required, and training up new staff.

Club Physical would be purchasing all of Jolt Fitness' equipment, for an undisclosed sum, Richards said.

In a message to members on Facebook, Richards asked that they hold "no bad feelings" towards any of the people involved in the dispute.

"We've learned lessons and now personally 'look forward'," he said.

"We're sad for those working at the clubs who were caught up in something not of their personal choice. So, let's just leave this behind us."

Richards said he and wife Tina would not be rushing into any new franchise agreements.

"We're not franchising these ones. We just want to put a lot of love into them and get away from this issue."

Holder has also posted a heartfelt message to members via Facebook.

"We do humbly apologise for any inconvenience this process may have caused for anyone of our valued members, this was certainly not the intention," he said.

"We would like to take this opportunity to thank our members for their support and to wish all of you the very best with your personal health and fitness goals for the coming year."

Richards said all but four of the Jolt Fitness staff that had applied to carry on working at the gyms under Club Physical had been offered positions.

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