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Fitness First Plus Deal Falls Apart

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The doors are locked and the locks have been changed. An empty semi-truck sits in the back of the building surrounded by piles of gym equipment waiting to be loaded.

Members say "Fitness First Plus" in East Moline closed after hours on Friday, August 9th. On Tuesday, August 13th, the owner told News 8's Jenna Morton that someone was going to buy the gym, but WQAD learned that the deal has fallen apart.

Eli Shetler, Co-Owner of Gravity Fitness Center, 325 16th Street in Bettendorf,was that "someone."

"Behind the scenes, we've known about Fitness First's problems now for probably six to eight months," he told News 8's Angie Sharp on Friday, August 16th. "About two months ago, we got a little more aggressive as we found that the time was getting closer and that their troubles were mounding."

As of 11pm Wednesday, August 14th, Shetler says he thought they had a deal. However, less than 24 hours later, at 4pm on Thursday, August 15th, "everything broke down," he said.

"The most I can say about it is we agreed to a cost to purchase all the equipment. We had come to terms with the landlord as far as what the lease agreement was going to be and then those things changed... not with the landlord, but about the price of the equipment and how handing over the equipment was going to work out."

Shetler says it's unfortunate for many reasons.

"My business partners and I grew up in East Moline," he said. "That gym has been there for a long time. We know a lot of the members that are there. It's too bad that we're way over here and they're over there and that's one of the reasons why we approached that business venture."

"All the members are welcome to come over here. We'll deal with each member on a case-by-case basis."

Members still have a lot of questions, though.

"Where are the computers from the gym?" Member Peggy Douglas asked on Friday. Peggy says the gym's manager had put on the Fitness First Plus Facebook Page that the computers were gone and on their way back to the gym's owner.

"I'm worried about identity theft. This person in Chicago has everybody's name, address, age... All they need is a social security number and they gotcha. I wouldn't put it pass this gal to sell the computers to the highest bidder."

That remains to be seen. For now, Peggy and other gym members are looking for new places to work out.

"I'm sad," Member Nancy Donnelly said outside of Fitness First Plus on Friday. "I really am. A lot of friendships here."

"I think the owner did wrong," said Nancy, who has been a member at the gym since 1999. "I think the owner should have been up front and honest."

Nancy says she heard about the gym closing down months ago, but not from the gym itself. She says she's not surprised, but frustrated with the way everything has been handled.

"A lot of flip-flopping. I'm tired of the flip-flopping."

News 8 tried to contact the owner of the gym on Friday, but never received a response.
However, a member shared a statement from the manager of the gym, which was posted on the gym's Facebook Page and reads:

"An agreement could not be made and the building is completely empty. We moved equipment in and out 5 different times while negotiations were being made and unmade. I apologize once again for all of the lost jobs, memberships and money. Any legal action that you will want to take can be filed against Fitness First Plus, LLC."