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Last lap for popular Forest Grove fitness center


Forest Grove Fitness closes doors after long financial struggle

When Manuela Gutzmann signed up for a deeply discounted one-year membership at Forest Grove Fitness earlier this month, the deal seemed too good to be true. Tuesday morning she found out it was.

The seven-year-old business, formerly known as Forest Grove Health & Fitness, had closed, surprising Gutzmann and a cluster of other members who’d shown up for their morning workouts.

“I’m stunned that someone would close overnight and leave everyone out on the line,” said Gutzmann.

Owner Jim Long said Tuesday that after years of financial struggles, he came to the conclusion that it was time to close the doors. “We held on as long as we could, longer than we probably should have,” he said. “We were throwing good money after bad.”

The business, at 2329 Pacific Ave., was troubled from the start. The original owner ran into financial problems. Long, who had been the construction contractor, was owed a large amount of money and ended up owning a business he knew little about.

He planned to sell it, he said, but the recession hit and “just about broke our back.”

While the economic rebound offered hope, he said, it didn’t pay the bills.

Longtime club member Charlotte Bolden said she was “saddened” by the closing.

“It has been part of my routine for years,” said Bolden, who lives in Gaston. “I feel especially for the elderly folks that attend classes and really enjoy the social aspect of a community gathering place.”

Long, who’s hoping to avoid bankruptcy and find a buyer, said he understands people are upset. He said his first priority is paying his employees and then seeing how to make good with members like Gutzmann who paid for multiple-month contracts.

She said her credit-card company has promised to reimburse her for 11 months of undelivered services, but others who renewed in January or paid with a check might be out of luck.

Long said that as he sorts things out, he plans to share information with members via the business website, forestgrovefitness.com.

“We’re trying our best to make everything right,” he said.

Meanwhile, physical therapist Aaron Frye, who operates out of the adjacent health center, is still open for business, though he said he’s begun to look for a new location.