Driving south on the Dallas North Tollway, approaching Oak Lawn, a cluster of Jeffersonian-style redbrick buildings stands to the left. One of the northernmost buildings houses the international headquarters of Gold’s Gym, a global chain with 700 locations in 29 countries. The fitness giant was forced to permanently close both of its local gyms — in Uptown and Preston Center — on April 15.
“As our global community continues to navigate these difficult and uncertain times, we want to provide consistent updates regarding the impact of COVID-19 on our gyms,” wrote Adam Zeitsiff, president and CEO of Gold’s Gym, to its members across the globe. “Today this includes sharing the news that the COVID-19-related closures have caused us to reassess the viability of some company-owned Gold’s Gym locations and make the difficult decision to permanently close about 30 gyms across the United States.”
All Gold’s Gym locations, whether corporate-owned or franchised, have been temporarily closed in accordance with directions from local and state governments and public health officials. Gold’s Gym froze all membership dues at no cost to customers, which, no doubt, caused serious issues concerning financial solvency. (This presumably forced the closures.)
However, this decision to permanently close certain gyms applies only to those that are “company-owned,” Zeitsiff’s email emphasized. It does not affect “franchise-owned locations.”
“Our focus is and always will be on our members, and we will be in touch with updates on what this means for your membership soon,” Zeitsiff wrote in the same email. “This includes seamlessly transferring your membership to another nearby Gold’s Gym location where possible, or working to find ways to help you continue your fitness journey in situations where a physical Gold’s Gym location will no longer be available in your market.”
However, while this statement may apply to members elsewhere, it’s irrelevant to most Dallasites. Franchised locations in Texas are mainly clustered in Houston and sprinkled throughout the western and southern parts of the state, so Gold’s members in North Texas will likely have to find a new gym. Dallasites wanting to exercise at a Gold’s Gym will need to brave the drive to north Richardson; according to a list compiled by Business Insider, this location will eventually reopen.
Former members and instructors shared their grief on Gold’s Gym Uptown’s Facebook post announcing its permanent closure: “I’ll miss the staff,” wrote Adam Lynn. “I got to know a lot of them over the year and they were great people. This was my home gym and I’m going to miss it!”
Shari LeVine, an instructor from 2008 to 2010, commented, “I have so many great memories of teaching here…I will miss this place.”
Christopher Rodousakis, the owner and operator of Align, a private training facility in Washington D.C., commented on the same post that such closures are “the tip of the iceberg.” Most gyms cannot financially tolerate such long closures, said Rodousakis, and smaller facilities can’t accommodate social distancing regulations.
Zeitsiff, on the other hand, remains confident that Gold’s Gym will bounce back when its franchised and corporate locations reopen in other cities.
“We know that we will emerge from this stronger and ready to grow,” he wrote in a statement to D Magazine. “Our focus is and always will be on our members… and we look forward to welcoming them back as soon as it is safe for our members, team members, and communities.”
Sadly, very few of those members — at least for the foreseeable future — will be in Dallas.